Food - Drink
Here's What Sloe Gin Really Is
Sloe gin isn't very common in the U.S., but judging by the spelling, you can guess that "sloe" doesn't refer to speed; it actually refers to the gin's main ingredient. According to Spirit Works Distillery, "sloe" is the common name for the plant prunus spinosa, which produces small, dark-colored berries called sloe berries or blackthorn plums.
Sloe plants grow across northern Europe, and can even be troublesome in the UK, given how densely they grow. The story goes that in the 1700s, the British tired of having no use for these ubiquitous berries, and attempted to mellow the harsh and sour flavors of the berry with gin and sugar — thus, sloe gin.
Ranging in color from a brownish-red to pink, sloe gin is fruity and floral, and some distilleries add extra ingredients to further enhance the different notes. The sloe gin fizz is a popular drink that pairs the liqueur with soda water, lemon juice, sugar, and an optional egg white, and this gin can even stand in for vermouth in negronis and Manhattans.