This is one of those liquors I had heard about, but didn’t know about. Sloe Gin Fizz is a geat name for a drink. The “sloe” part is what makes it. You think “slow” and relaxing, exactly what a good drink should be. I had picked up a pint bottle of Mr. Boston’s Sloe Gin this past summer, but never got around to doing anything with it. Two recent articles got me thinking about it again.

Eric Felten wrote about Sloe Gin this June in his column. The latest issue of Imbibe also has a brief article available online. It seems like both were sparked by a bottle of Plymouth Sloe Gin. Sloe gin is well described in Wikipedia – basically an infused gin made with sloes (duh), a relative of the plum that grows on short Blackthorn trees that make up hedges across England. A little foot work lead to a bottle of Plymouth Sloe Gin finding it’s way to the ACG test kitchen.

The Imbibe article included three recipes, one for a Sloe Gin Fizz which is basically a Tom Collins with Sloe Gin, one called the Charlie Chaplin and one called the Wibble. The Fizz seemed more like a summer drink so we skipped that. The Charlie Chaplin recipe was taken from The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (David Embury). Well, almost taken from that great book. They modified the recipe to include equal parts of all ingredients, resulting in more lime juice. I suppose that was done to make it easier to mix. The Wibble seems to be a modern concoction that includes blackberry liqueur, grapefruit and lemon juice.

We made them all and reached some conclusions. First off, Sloe Gin is good. The gin elements are fairly well hidden behind the red stone fruit aromas of the sloes. Good info when you get the standard “I just don’t like gin” response when it comes up. David Embury dismisses Sloe Gin as being too sweet to make a decent cocktail, but Plymouth’s take on it is not overly sweety and could be enjoyed neat.

I very much enjoyed the Charlie Chaplin, when made to the original recipe. The lime flavor was too noticable in Imbibe’s recipe. The original proportions let the acid of the lime balance the two sweet liqueurs without disrupting the drink. Highly recommended. The Wibble with it’s five ingredients was good, but tasted a little too fruity and was too fussy to make.

Charlie Chaplin

  • from The Fine Art of Mixing Drink
  • 2 parts Lime Juice
  • 3 parts Sloe Gin
  • 3 part Apricot Brandy

Shake with ice and strain. We used Marie Brizard Apricot Brandy. The measurements look hard to reproduce, but here’s how: make two drinks at a time and measure in ounces, or get a small measuring cup like the OXO that has metric measures and use 20ml to 30 to 30. Both work fine.

Pick up the latest copy of Imbibe for the Wibble recipe, but be prepared to track down some creme de mure (we substituted creme de cassis).

The Plymouth web site has several recipes, including this one that seems worth a try:

Blackthorn English


25 ml sweet vermouth

8 drops orange bitters

35 ml Sloe Gin

25 ml Plymouth Gin


Stir with ice and strain. It’s a Martini variant.