How To Guides

Merry Ginmas Sloe Negronis!

Thank you to all our members, followers and readers for everything this year. We are excited to join you for a spirited 2015!

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If you’re looking for something to drink this evening, its the perfect night for a sloe gin Negroni. Here’s how to make one… Or two… ūüėČ

INGREDIENTS:
1 part London Dry gin
1 part sloe gin
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part Campari

TO SERVE:
Over crushed ice with a slice of clementine.

Combine the gin, Vermouth and Campari in a glass with ice and stir. Garnish with clementine.

Merry Ginmas everyone!

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How To Guides

How to: Let it SLOE, let it SLOE, let it SLOE!

So, back in October I wrote a post on how to make sloe gin. And, with less than 10 days to go until Christmas day, tonight was the night to filter & bottle the good stuff! Here’s a quick guide to getting your sloe gin out of the KILNER and ready to gift.

What you’ll need…

  1. I have used 250ml KILNER clip top bottles. You’ll need as many as you have made gin for!
  2. Muslin. I use butter muslin from Kitchen Craft. You probably only need one pack.
  3. Conical sieve. I like the Kitchen Craft 16cm conical sieve for this.
  4. Stainless steel funnel. I use this one, again from Kitchen Craft. It has a small filter you can remove.
  5. Labels. I used chalkboard labels this year. You could buy some like these ones from NotOnTheHighStreet.com

Let's get these sloes on the road

So. First things first. You need to remove the sloe’s. Simples! Just pour your gin out of the jar through a large sieve or colander and throw your sloes away.

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Next, you want to line your conical sieve with a few layers of muslin. This will help to filter away some of the sediment. Note: it will never get rid of all of the sediment, but that’s OK. This is homemade sloe gin and a little sediment never hurt anyone. We aren’t talking professional chill filtration here, clearly. Do fold the muslin over a few times though before you line the sieve – the more times, the better the filter. Pour the gin through the muslin and sieve slowly (or is that sloe-ly?). Under the sieve, make sure you have another pyrex pouring jug or similar.

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Now that you’ve filtered your gin, you may wish to go again for a second filtration. Up to you.

Finally, you’re ready to decant into your bottles using a funnel.

Get those bottles labelled and you’re away! You could add some festive ribbon or decorations if you liked.

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Word of caution: I use these clip top KILNER’s because I like them and they are easy for the recipient to reuse, but they can leak (even though they aren’t meant to). Recommend wrapping and keeping the bottles upright under the tree!

So from everyone at The Gin Club and from myself, Lady Jenever, here’s wishing you the most wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Oh so sloe-ly: how to make sloe gin.

There is little more satisfying than sitting fireside in December and pouring a rich, fruity, sweet, sloe gin made by your own fair hands. Sloe gin is easy and enjoyable to make, makes great gifts for friends and family and quintessentially English.

You need to start making sloe gin at least 2 months before Christmas, so now is the perfect time to get started. The heavy rains and drop in temperature this year means that there is a healthy slug of sloes about in Surrey and I enjoy nothing more than foraging the hedgerows near my home to find these glorious berries. This weekend I went out with official Gin Club mascot, Charlie Noodle dog, to hunt out some sloes and we came home very happy with a solid crop.

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What if you can’t find any sloe’s near you? Easy. Pop onto ebay and a lovely kind farmer will send them to you! If you live near London, try using The Fruit Map (although bear in mind most foragers don’t like sharing where the top spots are!).

It’s so simple… Rinse your sloes well, score or freeze the sloes to break the skin and add them to a glass bottle or jar. They should be added until almost half full. Top up with gin. Taste before bottling and add a simple sugar syrup to taste.

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The recipe

  • Ripe sloe berries (enough to fill 1/3 – 1/2 of the bottle you are making the sloe gin in)
  • A good quality gin
  • Sugar (I use muscovado sugar as I prefer the flavour – the above shows my two types of sloe gin – the one on the left has sugar, the one on the right has none as I will sweeten that one to taste)

Added extra: A vanilla pod or a crushed, raw almond.

Method:

  • Score sloes and add to bottle or Kilner lock top jar – fill 1/3 the way up (warning: sometimes using tapered neck bottles can be a pain as getting the sloes out can be painful, but it’s up to you)
  • Add vanilla pod & almond
  • Add sugar (now, two schools of thought here – some add sugar upfront, some prefer to add it at the end, to taste. If it’s your first time, try both methods and see which you prefer).
  • Pour gin in to the top – fill as high as you can
  • Leave for at least 2 months out of direct sunlight, turning the jar every couple of days
  • Bottle just before Xmas (Read our guide to filtering and bottling your sloe gin here)

Here are 3 top tips to really make a good sloe gin:

1. Ripe Sloe’s

If when you press the sloe between your finger and thumb, it gives¬†and feels like it might burst, it’s ripe. If you use unripened sloes, you will have a very bitter sloe gin on your hands.

2. Freeze or score the sloe’s

The sloes need to have their skin scored slightly to let the gin in and the flavour out. There are a few ways of doing this, but by far the best is to freeze the sloes overnight so the skin bursts. This replicates the first autumn freeze if it hasn’t been yet.

Some prefer to prick the skin with a clean pin or, as legend would have you believe, it should be done with a thorn from the same bush you collected the sloes from. Some score the skin gently with a knife – but be careful – fingers are vulnerable!

3. Use a good gin

It doesn’t have to be a craft, boutique,¬†top shelf gin, but it really shouldn’t be a supermarket own name brand. Sloe’s are wonderful things, but they can’t disguise poor quality gin.¬†The better the gin you start with, the better your sloe gin, of course. We used Bombay London dry here, which was just fine, but do try a bottle of two of top shelf gin once you get more experienced!

And that’s it. Enjoy making your sloe gin! For those who don’t feel like making their own, my favourite is¬†Sipsmith Sloe Gin.

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