These days, for better or for worse, flavored spirits are all the rage. (Wedding cake vodka: definitely for worse.) But it’s worth looking back in time and paying tribute to the original flavored liquors, made with quality spirits and real fruits, each with proud traditions of its own.
There’s no better example than sloe gin, a British favorite, made from steeping dark purple sloe berries with gin and sugar. Never heard of sloe berries? That’s because the little fruits taste pretty terrible on their own; only when steeped in booze do their more redeeming qualities emerge. (Funny, we know some humans like that, too.)
Today, Plymouth—one of the world’s classic gin brands—makes its sloe gin from a recipe dating from 1883. At about 26 percent ABV, sloe gin drinks like a fruit liqueur, rather than a gin. But while there’s a distinct, dark-berry sweetness, it’s balanced by the fruit’s own vivid acidity, and a little nuttiness from the fruit’s stone, which steeps in there too.