The Sloe Gin Martini is another Harry Craddock creation from his 1930 manual The Savoy Cocktail Book.
Sloe gin is an old English style gin made by putting the berries of the blackthorn bush into gin and leaving it to steep. The sloe berry looks like a blueberry, but tastes like a sour plum. The skins are very tannic so sugar is added to balance the flavour of the sloe gin making it technically a liqueur.
Producers vary the time they allow the sloe berries to infuse the gin. I’ve tasted sloe gins that are steeped from 3 to 12 months, with differing results. The longer the infusion the higher the ABV. I prefer my sloe gin on the dry side and find some brands on the market too sickly sweet for my palate. A tell-tale sign of overdoing the sugar is crystallization around the lid.
I’ve used McHenry Sloe Gin from Tasmania for this Sloe Gin martini. While sloes are native to England, settlers brought blackthorn plants to Tasmania. Foraging for sloes with William McHenry was one of the highlights of last year.
William leaves the berries to infuse in his Classic Dry gin for 12 months. As a result some of the flavour from the stone of the fruit is retained which gives a hint of almonds on finish. He doesn’t add a lot sugar and the overall result is drier than many brands. It’s my stand out sloe gin.
Harry Craddock’s recipe calls for sweet and dry vermouth to be used and I’ve used Maidenii for the full Australian experience.
Ingredients for a Sloe Gin Martini
40ml McHenry Sloe Gin
20ml Maidenii dry vemrouth
20ml Maidenii sweet vermouth
Stir over ice for 30-40 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.