Since purchasing a bottle of sloe gin a while back, most of the resulting cocktails have have been relatively light and citrus based, like a Cloudy Sky (sloe gin, lime, and ginger ale) or a sloe gin fizz (sloe gin, soda water, simple syrup, and lemon juice). These are very tasty drinks but not particularly complex and pretty thin on the alcohol front. I wanted to try or create drinks that were a bit more challenging or at least stronger.
The first of a couple of half-sized drinks that I made was simply called the Sloe Gin Martini, found though the wonders of the internets. I wouldn't call it a martini, as there is no gin (no, sloe gin is not gin) but it seemed interesting regardless. I stirred rather than shook it but otherwise followed the recipe.
Sloe Gin Martini
3 ounces of sloe gin (Plymouth)
1 ounce of dry vermouth (Nolly Pratt)
4 dashes of Angostura bitters
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Pretty good. The first thing that hit me was the sweetness of the sloe gin, which had me thinking "uh oh." But before the sweetness could get too intense, in the mid swallow the bitters and vermouth came to the fore. The drink turns out to be well balanced, if a bit light. This drink got good reviews from my wife, who drank the bulk of it, and I think would work for a pretty diverse crowd. Given the amount of sugar, I'm not sure if you would want more than one, but it was a relaxing spring beverage, though not as sweet as most cocktails with sloe gin. Another plus was that it was really quick to make, involving relatively few ingredients and no syrups, juicing, muddling, or any such nonsense.
The second sloe gin cocktail, which I came up with, was a bit stronger and more complex.
2 ounces of sloe gin
1 ounce of old tom gin (Ransom)
1 ounce of lemoncello (homemade and relatively strong)
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
This drink really shined. Despite its relatively low amount, the old tom gin was the initial and probably strongest flavor in the drink. Its slight sweetness and herbal quality complemented the liqueurs. I like to think of sloe gin and lemoncello as cousins because both were traditionally made with fruit by farmer types in the countryside. Homemade hooch is the best. Anyway, they worked well together. The swallow ended with a twisting of the two liqueurs followed by a bit of a warm taste from the gin. All in all, most pleasant.
It's a bit more challenging than most sloe gin concoctions, being cut with nothing but liqueurs but still relatively accessable. Also note that the lemoncello that I used was relatively strong and not too sweet. Otherwise you might need to use some bitters or at least amp up the amount of old tom gin. The English Accent was also very easy to make.
Next time I might try garnishing it withe a rosemary or mint sprig to play up the herbal flavor instead of the lemon wedge, which slightly cuts down the sweetness and amplifies the lemoncello. I also think that I could dial back the sloe gin to 1.5 ounces and perhaps up the old tom gin to .75 ounces.