Say sloe and most people will say gin but you can actually use whatever you like to top up your homemade tipples and, for that matter, you can use just as many different things for the base.
Experiment – the first time we made sloe gin, the recipe said to add a couple of cloves – Mr B said it tasted like cough mixture! No more cloves but I have heard of people adding chillies, juniper and other botanicals. I tried making blackcurrant vodka a couple of years ago but it tasted like neat Ribena to me – too much on its own but lovely in a glass of fizz, or with lots of ice, and topped up with soda and mint leaves over the summer.
The basic recipe is the same for all of them – pick your base flavour (sloes, damsons, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, rose hips…) add sugar and alcohol (gin, vodka, brandy…). Shake once a day for a week or so until the sugar has completely dissolved, then once a week for a month, and leave somewhere cool and dark until it’s time to strain into sterilised bottles.
Prep the fruit (see notes below), add everything to the sterilised jar and seal. Don’t forget to date and label as they often look similar when it’s time to decant them.My absolute favourite is blackberry brandy but I was given a wonderful clemicello (clementine vodka) which is very high up the list, and I tasted a homemade toffee vodka at our local last year – delicious. I’ve also heard talk of Skittles vodka – maybe you’ve tried it or you have favourite recipes of your own? (Share the love in comments below).
Kate’s kitchen notes:
* Damsons/cherries – leave stones in, it adds to the taste. When you decant, try dipping the cherries in dark chocolate, yummy!