Bar Belle: A sloe comeback

A few weeks ago, I got my hands on a hard-to-find bottle of Plymouth Sloe Gin. I immediately thought of my nights at bartending school — where there was more book study and less real-word experience when it came to making and tasting drinks. For some reason, the Sloe Gin Fizz stuck in my memory as a cocktail to try … or to whip out at my next party. So I did just that. I called upon my most dedicated cronies to give the sloe gin a try … see if it has a place on our modern-day bar shelves.

But first, a history lesson. The red liqueur is made from soaking sloe berries in sweetened gin. Sloe berries grow on blackthorn trees found alongside roads and in fields in England, much like our humble dandelions. And for all you useless fact collectors, the sloe berry is a cousin to the plum. The recipe Plymouth Gin uses in its current bottles dates back to 1883. I’ve been told the sloe gin will be available at Liquor Barns soon, and that a few of the fancier places in town (732 Social, Volare, Jack Fry’s) already have it on their shelves.

Back to the important stuff — how’s it taste? A Sloe Gin Fizz mixes sloe gin, lemon juice and club soda, garnished with a cherry. Some recipes add sugar, and some use egg whites to capture that frothy goodness that lingers on the top. But for my budget and lack of proper planning, it was lemon juice and soda. The drink was refreshing and inspiring when set against the backdrop of grubby humidity and a failing air conditioner. The immediate, sharp taste of liquor tilled your tongue, followed by a gentle soothing pat from the lemon. The soda lingered like a crisp goodbye kiss. I pictured straddling bar stools alongside Nick Carraway in a dark, smoky speakeasy as flappers and gangsters dizzied the room. I remembered Jack White and Loretta Lynn singing of the drink’s virtues in “Portland Oregon” — Sloe Gin Fizz works mighty fast, when you drink it by the pitcher and not by the glass.

I dusted off my old bartending textbook before the party and found a few more recipes. We had about 30 minutes of fun playing old-fashioned bartender … until Debbie Downer deep-throated the last drop. The room went silent, worried stares pierced the empty, fallen-down bottle. Search crews were deployed to area warehouses to no avail. No sloe gin on this side of the Watterson. The party never regained its momentum. An hour later, I stood alone in a dark, red-stained kitchen.

Keep your eyes out for sloe gin at your local liquor store. If you find a bottle, I recommend starting with the Sloe Gin Fizz to get your bearings and enjoy a simple, old-fashioned cocktail. But to spice things up, here are a few ideas — some of them real recipes, others I made up.

Sloe Screw: sloe gin, orange juice

Sloe Fuzzy Screw: sloe gin, vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice

Sloe Comfortable Screw: sloe gin, Southern Comfort, orange juice

Sloe Comfortable Screw Against the Wall: sloe gin, Southern Comfort, orange juice, topped with Galliano

Screwing Sloe in Mexico: sloe gin, tequila, orange juice

The Wibble: sloe gin, gin, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, simple syrup

English Orchard: sloe gin, ginger ale, muddled plum, splash of apple juice

Sloe Kentuckian: sloe gin, bourbon, lemon juice, club soda

Sloe Sputnik: sloe gin, vodka, lemon juice, club soda

Sloe Me Your Titos: sloe gin, Tito’s Vodka, lemon juice, club soda

Sloe Orgasm: sloe gin, amaretto, Bailey’s Irish Cream

Sloebomb: sloe gin, Red Bull

Mount Gays Sloely: sloe gin, Mount Gay Rum, lemon juice, club soda, Astroglide


Drunk Texts of the Week

•I said T-Rex, not down syndrome

•Im stoned like a 7th century whore

•Ur yelling like Mel Gibson

•City Scoop guy insulted my music!

•Almost spelld insult inslut

•Dnt inslut me … ha!

I know you’ve got ’em … send your drunk texts to [email protected].