Sloe gin is a delicious liqueur that doesn’t get as much use as it should in my bar. I often get asked “what is your favorite cocktail to make with sloe gin” when people spot the bottle, knowing that it is a somewhat unusual ingredient. As a result, when a menu features a sloe gin cocktail, it jumps out at me and I’m always curious to try it. Sage Advice is a cocktail that I encountered over at Idle Hour, where they were serving it up as part of their seasonal menu. The cocktail is made with sloe gin, pear brandy, a sage-infused simple syrup, lemon juice and cardamom bitters – and one glance at the deep berry-colored drink is enough to know that sloe gin is the star.
This drink is a great favorite with some of my friends and I couldn’t resist recreating it myself so that I could serve it up when one of them asked for it. At the bar, this drink is batched and served on tap. While I had no plans to make a big batch myself, I opted not to shake the cocktail to get it as close to the batched version as possible. That means that even though this has some citrus in it, I stirred it before serving. The cocktail has the sweet-tart berry and stone fruit flavor of sloe gin, with the added sweetness of the pear brandy. The sage syrup gives it an earthy note and creates a depth of flavor by balancing out some of the fruit flavors. Fresh lemon juice keeps the cocktail from feeling too syrupy, though it has a velvety mouthfeel. Finish the cocktail with a few dashes of cardamom bitters.
Besides a fizz, what’s your favorite cocktail to make with sloe gin?
1 1/2-oz Plymouth sloe gin
1/2-oz pear brandy
1/2-oz lemon juice
3/4-oz sage-infused simple syrup
2 dashes cardamom bitters*
In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients. Fill with ice and stir to chill and combine. Strain into an old fashioned glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a sage leaf.
*I found that Angostura bitters make an an equally delicious, but slightly spicier version, of this cocktail. Feel free to substitute them if you don’t have cardamom bitters.
Sage Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
.5 – .75-oz fresh sage, bruised
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and allow sage to infuse for at least 3 hours. Strain and store in the refrigerator.