I’m not a big fan of sweet drinks or liqueurs, but one thing I do like… I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t like it, is sloe gin. Sloes are the fruit of the wild blackthorn, a very prickly small tree; they are extremely sour and bitter, if you eat one raw your face would pucker up like a … like a puckered up thing. But steep them in gin (or even vodka) with a little sugar you will get the most delicious and flavoursome liqueur you could imagine. It is a traditional thing, in Britain, and in fact every year our pub the Dolphin, have a sloe gin competition; everyone brings their gins and there is a great sampling and great fun and eventually, somehow, a winner is declared!
We have never entered the contest, in fact, it’s a long time since we made any sloe gin; I do remember once being given it in mistake for cough mixture when I was small, and acquired a taste for it from then. My parents would make sloe gin and it would be dark and port-like; my aunty and uncle also made it and they preferred it lighter with fewer sloes per amount of gin.
We saw some unripe sloes a little while ago; maybe today is the day to go and pick them!