If you live in England, you be familiar with sloe berries. The purplish-colored, astringent, sour berries literally grow everywhere—in fact they can probably be found right in your Nan’s backyard. Not wanting to waste perfectly good, readily available berries, the ever-crafty Brits infused them into high proof gin, adding sugar to make a sweet-sour liqueur that rendered the fruit into a product that was actually drinkable. Traditionally, sloe gin was sipped straight during the colder winter months as a warming tonic or as a digestif after a heavy meal. After American bartenders got their hands on the liqueur in the early 1900s, they had fizzier ideas for the liqueur. Adopting it as a base for cocktails, they concocted this iconic drink with the English liqueur. What became known as the Sloe Gin Fizz, combined sloe gin with fresh citrus and a spritzy topper of soda water. Unfortunately, the Fizz and the English sloe gin liqueurs used in them, slowly became cloying and syrupy over the years, replacing the traditional ingredients with artificial stand-ins and eventually getting relegated to space filler in the back of liquor cabinets. Indeed, sloe gin (and its namesake cocktail) became a shadow of its former delicious glory. But recently, producers have begun to revive the liqueur, making it with real sloe berries instead of all that imitiation goop. In America, where sloe berries do not grow, producers are infusing gins with local plum varietals—like the Damson and the Beach Plum—to make new iterations on the classic. Whether you choose to use the American craft liquers or more traditional English ones, there is no better time to grab one of those bottles and revive the Sloe Gin Fizz.
Sloe Gin Fizz
Mix it Up
Named for an Edwardian musical famous for its chorus line of "Florodora Girls," this classic highball is made with gin, raspberry liqueur and a fresh ginger syrup. In David Wondrich’s Imbibe, the cocktail historian notes that originally the cocktail was made with fresh, muddled raspberries instead of a cordial—but we prefer the extra b...