Blackthorn – Recipe below from ‘Old Waldorf Bar Days’

Of Irish inception, “blackthorn” is synonymous with shillelagh, the native Celt’s walking stick, used also from primitive days as a weapon of offense and defence. It is cut from the blackthorn bush. The fact that one of its essentials was sloe gin, a distillation of the fruit of the blackthorn, gave authority to the drink and to its derivation as well.

Two dashes of orange bitters

One-third Italian vermouth

Two-thirds sloe gin


After a good hunt around online, there are about half a dozen ‘blackthorn’ cocktails, and this is not one of the more popular varieties. The others are far removed from this as well, and much more ‘Manhattan’ style.

Sloe gin is a big English thing, the berries re picked from hedgerows in October/November, and steeped in gin, or vodka, with a (un)healthy dose of sugar. What comes out of the bottle is pretty far from a gin, and really all liqueur.

Knowing this the recipe looks way too sweet, so I made some adjustments. Earlier this year I had a great training session with the guys from Four Pillars Gin. They decided not to do a sloe gin, but instead a ‘bloody Shiraz’ gin, using Shiraz grapes to make a ‘sloe’ style product. They have cut down the amount of sugar massively, so I used 40ml bloody Shiraz, 10ml Hayman’s sloe gin, couple of dashes of orange bitters and 25ml Carpano Antica formula and its delicious! Still almost a little sweet, next time I’d probably increase the gin by about 20ml, but a great drink. I think we’ll try and sneak this onto out dessert cocktail list at Goat when sloe berries come into season.