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3/8/2017 10:00:00 AM
Sloe Gin Fizz making a comeback
by Brian Rung

If you are under the age of 65, you're out of luck on two fronts - you are not eligible for most retirement benefits, and in all likelihood you have never had a Sloe Gin Fizz.

I can't help you with your retirement plan, but we can cross the Sloe Gin Fizz off of your cocktail bucket list today. The refreshing Sloe Gin Fizz is mostly sweet, partly sour, easy to make and even easier to drink.

The Sloe Gin Fizz is part of the Gin Fizz family of cocktails which was wildly popular among young Americans from the time it was invented in the late 19th century up until the 60's.

As we turned the page into the 70's the drink literally fell so far out of favor that makers of Sloe Gin stopped shipments to the United States for the most part.

After a 30-plus year drought, Sloe Gin has made a bit of a comeback. There is a good chance that your local spirits retailer now carries Sloe Gin. The two most widely available brands are Plymouth and Bol's.

When you pick up your first bottle of sloe gin, there is one thing that you will notice immediately - Sloe Gin is not gin. Nope, definitely not gin. So, what is it?

Remember the line in the Led Zeppelin classic Stairway to Heaven "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now"? We can't be sure what caused the bustle in the hedgerow, but there's a good chance that Robert Plant was singing of his native England. If that is the case, the hedgerow was likely of the blackthorn variety, which contains sloes.

Sloes are dime-sized berries that grow wild in hedgerows all over England. After the berries are harvested, they are infused in mixture of gin and sugar. The end result is Sloe Gin which is more of a liqueur than a gin, usually bottled between 15 to 30 percent alcohol by volume.

The traditional English preference is to enjoy Sloe Gin as a warming drink. I have never visited the United Kingdom during the deepest, darkest, depths of their winter, and I do not plan to do so. Having said that, if I had to choose between freezing and sipping Sloe Gin, pass me the Plymouth.

There was little to no demand for Sloe Gin stateside until we found an American way to serve it. Add sugar, add soda, a squeeze of lemon and you now have the ultimate summer refreshment. On one side of the Atlantic sloe gin keeps you warm, on the other side it keeps you cool.

There are other Gin Fizz cocktails in the Fizz family. The Sloe Gin Fizz and the Ramos Gin Fizz are the two most popular. The Fizz cocktails are very similar to the Tom Collins which contains London dry gin, sugar and lemon juice, but only a splash of soda to add a sparkling quality to the drink.

The Sloe Gin Fizz requires much more than a splash of club soda. To be a true Sloe Gin Fizz the soda content must equal or exceed the gin content. The Sloe Gin Fizz is not an overly strong cocktail in the way of flavor or alcohol content and it is not supposed to be. This one is 100 percent pure refreshment.

Once you have located a bottle of sloe gin, the rest of the ingredients are easily attainable and the recipe is straightforward.

One word of caution if you are new to club soda cocktails - never shake a cocktail with a high soda content.

Add the soda after the drink has been shaken and strained into the glass.

Remember when you shook that can of soda as a kid? The same scientific principle applies in 2017.

We will be building the Sloe Gin Fizz in a shaker and serving in a highball (tall) glass.

Fill Shaker with ice.

Add 2.5 oz sloe gin.

Add 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice.

Add 1/2 oz simple syrup.

Shake and strain into highball glass, just over half full of ice.

Top with 2 to 3 oz club soda.

Until next week, enjoy responsibly.

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