January 10th, 2014
I can remember going on a solo bus trip age 10, to Talley Ho Corner where I bought my first LP, The Slider by T-Rex. Fast forward many years and I’ve come across two more sliders – small burgers and my new personal favourite, sloe gin cider.
I often make sloe gin during the autumn, which is ready to drink by Christmas. It’s a great winter warmer when the weather goes south. A demijohn (gallon jar) half full of sloes can produce two lots of gin (about 9 bottles), but at the end of it one is left with a lot of gin soaked berries. I’ve seen suggestions for eating these sloes with ice cream or even chocolate coating them, but having tasted a few I’ve found that they are still quite bitter and not pleasant at all.
Last September, around the time that I was bottling my second batch of gin, I found an article suggesting that the gin soaked sloes could be given a second lease of life by adding cider to them. As cider is relatively cheap this seemed like a good experiment…
I went to the Southampton Arms to buy my cider. It’s conveniently just a couple of streets away from my home and is probably, “The only dedicated ale and cider house in London to sell only beers and ciders from small independent UK breweries.”
The pub staff are exceptionally helpful here – they let you taste all the drinks before you order and handily sell takeaway cider by the flagon! As sugar had previously been added to the sloes and gin, I chose a very dry cider – Legbender from Rich’s Farmhouse Cider of Sommerset, with an ABV of 6%.
The cider should be poured gently over the sloes – splashing it around oxygenates the drink and apparently that should be kept to a minimum – oxygen can kill the Slider over time or adversely affect the flavour. I needed about 6 pints of cider to cover the sloes.
An airlock should be used to allow any gas to be released – there is likely to be a chemical reaction with any sugar left from the sloe gin and potentially a secondary fermentation in the cider. The airlock allows gas to escape without letting any bacteria or insects in. The Slider should be left in a dark room or cupboard for a month or so.
I had intended to drink the Slider in October or November, but somehow didn’t get round to it. This week I invited Audrey round for the opening of the demijohn and I was slightly anxious that it might have turned to vinegar. I needn’t have worried, there was a distinct and pleasant cider smell when I removed the cork.
Our verdict: The Slider was exceptionally good. The gin soaked sloes had mellowed the tart cider, giving it a hint of sloe gin and it had a distinct taste of almonds (from the stone in the sloe), apples and cherries. The drink had a lovely clear rose hip colour and only needed filtering towards the bottom of the demijohn. I will definitely be making this again!
When making your own Slider I recommend that you use a good quality traditional cider and not the commercial rubbish found in most pubs and supermarkets. There are stalls in farmers’ markets selling the real thing. It’s worth noting that some people use their sloes once again (after the cider) and add sherry to them – I haven’t gone that far yet…
I noticed online, that one can buy a commercial Slider, which costs around £12 per half bottle.