“The gin craze of recent years has reached a scale that would have horrified Hogarth,” says John Sturgis in The Spectator. There’s strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb, lime… but the only flavour worth bothering with is sloe. It’s everywhere – “Buckingham Palace even launched a line this year” – and it couldn’t be easier to make at home.
Folk wisdom says you should forage for sloes after the first frosts – around now – when the “deep blue-black colour” has “a pretty silver sheen”. Freeze them overnight so the skins crack, then add double the amount of berries to sugar, with enough gin to cover – “and then a slosh more”. “If you want to post about it on Instagram then maybe invest in an attractive Kilner jar.” Otherwise a recycled plastic bottle will do. Shake it occasionally before straining and bottling after at least three months, or ideally a year.
Try a Spitfires Over Kent cocktail – shake the gin over ice with lemon juice, crème de violette and maraschino. Or slug it “straight from a hip flask on a cold winter day”.