Sloe Gin

21 10 2010

I love sloe gin.

That isn’t really a trendy statement for a 20 something man to say but I say two fingers to what is and isn’t trendy, sloe gin is great.

To me it looks and tastes like Christmas in a bottle, not that it can’t be enjoyed at other times of the year as well.

For those who don’t know the sloe is the fruit of the Blackthorn, a lovely spikey hedgerow tree that grows like a weed. Sloes are roughly marble sized bluey/purple berries that are at their very best in October/November ideally just after the first frost.

Seeing as Blackthorn is so prolific in hedgerows throughout the UK and Ireland you can very easily bag yourself several pounds of delicious, sweet and most importantly free berries whilst still leaving ample for birds and fellow humans.

To give an example at the beginning of October 2009 we picked 8 3/4 lb of sloes from the hedges and bushes at the side of the River Lea between Springfield Marina and Stonebridge Lock.

As well as being one of my favourite tipples; Sloe gin also makes a great Christmas present, especially in the present economic climate.

Here is how to make your own Sloe Gin:

Buy several litres of cheap gin, we are talking the sort of stuff that they sell as own brand in Tesco or Asda.

You could waste your money buying the very best gin possible but the sloes will be completely changing the flavour of it and you really don’t need to

You will also need to get your hands on some extra 1 litre spirits bottles or ideally a nice glass demijohn.

First things first wash your sloes and get rid of any stray leaves and twigs that might be caught up with them, not to mention any unwanted visitors such as bugs or flies.

In order to get the best results out of your sloes you need to release the juices that are locked inside them. You can do this a number of ways, you can prick them with a pin/fork, gently squish them between your fingers or pop them in the freezer until they split.

Once you have prepared your sloes you are ready to begin, empty the gin from one bottle to the other/the demijohn so that each bottle is only half full.

Fill each bottle with sloes until the gin has been displaced enough that it is nearly at the top of the bottle.

Using a funnel add approx 150g of white sugar to each bottle.

*If you are using a demijohn then adjust the amount of sugar accordingly, for example if there are 2 litres of gin in the demijohn you will need 4 times the amount of sugar(600g)*

Once all of the bottles are filled and ready pop the caps on them and tip them upside down, be very careful if you are trying to do this with a demijohn.

Each bottle will need to be upended in this fashion once a day for the first week, after this point you will need to upend each bottle once a week for the next two months.

After two months your sloe gin will be ready to drink, I would advise though that you leave your sloe gin for longer. The gin that I will be drinking this year was made last year, the difference that the extra ten months or so makes is very noticeable.





The Coppermill – Walthamstow E17

1 10 2010

Address: 205, Coppermill Lane, London, E17 7HF

Tel: 08721 077 077

Stuck away at the bottom of Coppermill Lane by Walthamstow Marshes The Coppermill is a local pub in a way that very few pubs in London seem to be anymore.

Most of the people you will find drinking in here are locals  and the pub caters to their wants and needs; you won’t find Thai food rushing out of a kitchen or theme nights or a 2nd rate celebrity chef  on site but you will find a quiet pleasant pub which serves good beer that is well kept. A far cry by the standard of pubs in Walthamstow.

Whilst it is a little off the beaten track it is still close enough to the tube and overhead train stations to make it easy enough for a visitor to find (less than half a mile from Blackhorse road and St James street stations and about .8 of a mile from Walthamstow Central)

The pub is a  little on the small side and if you don’t manage to get a seat it can feel a little cramped; there is one single bar with seating around the outside of the room and there is now seating outside which is really nice on a summer’s evening.

The decor of the pub is a little overdone and if you didn’t realise from the get go that it’s a local pub you certainly will when you see that there are caricatures of regulars all over the place and that some people seem to have assigned seating…. All that aside I have never felt unwelcome in the Coppermill and the atmosphere is very pleasant; I also have it on good authority that they are more welcoming to gays and lesbians then most of the other pubs in the local area.

There is no really food offering here but that isn’t what this place is about,  if you are hungry mid-session there are the usual crisps and peanuts on offer along with some bar snacks more to my liking; pickled eggs, jellied eels and sometimes even some rollmops (pickled herrings rolled up with onion and gerkin) delicious!

When it comes to drinks all the usual culprits are available along with 4 handpumps, normally they have Greene King IPA, Fullers ESB and London Pride on the ramp and all are very well kept.  The 4th pump is for guest beers which rotate fairly frequently.

Most recently when I was in the Coppermill they had Thwaites Wainwright on as the guest beer which was no hardship, I have also had very good pints of Bombadier and Ringwoods Old Thumper out of there as well.

If you are looking for a nice day out I can think of a lot worse things to do then take a walk or cycle through to the marshes or the River Lea and popping into the Coppermill on the way.








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