The sloe gin we've been drinking in America for decades has been lacking a couple of ingredients: sloes and gin.
Sloe berries are actually small plums that grow wild on shrubs around Northern Europe. They are small and extremely tart if you eat them raw. (Remind me not to try that again.) Sloe gin is a traditional infusion of sloe berries in gin with sugar, often homemade in England seemingly by everyone's grandmother if internet commenters are to be believed. (Feel free to submit your own grandmother's recipe in the comments below.)
But the sloe gin that we've been served in the US for many years is more like red-colored, syrupy, vaguely berry-flavored vodka. Luckily for us, Plymouth, a traditional gin brand, launched a sloe gin and is importing some of it to America. This year, The Bitter Truth, a company that makes bitters, has also launched a sloe gin with sloe berries from Germany where the company is based.
Both brands are delicious and natural tasting, with the Plymouth tangier and the Bitter Truth more nutty. Neither is all that easy to find outside of big cities, but should you locate either in a liquor store or on the internet, you won't be dissappointed.
The traditional Sloe Gin Fizz is a very simple drink: just gin, lemon juice, soda water, and a splash of simple syrup. Should you want a fizzier fizz, you might try this version of the drink made frothy with egg white.
Sloe Gin Fizz
1.5 fl. oz. Sloe Gin
.75 fl. oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
.25 tsp. Simple Syrup
About 3 fl. oz. Soda Water
Add all ingredients to a Collins-style glass. Fill with ice. Optional garnish with an orange wedge.