Above: Cheers Peggy Sue, life is just too short to drink inferior alcohol.

Words by: Nick Koumbarakis

(Insert background music here)…Oh the weather outside is frightful but that fire is so delightful…said no one ever, though I am not one to slander Frank Sinatra.

…Essentially, what is non existent in todays paradigm is the same attitude and keen exploration being applied to that of food.

With the 25th drawing closer with each passing day and the imminent arrival of the apocalypse according to a certain Mayan prophecy, I would tend to speculate that you are preparing for the latter. With that in mind, I would comprehend that the quality of ingredient comes into consideration when preparing for such an occasion. And yet it is something that has yet to be recognised to those outside the craft of bartending and the quality of alcohol being utilised.

Of course I am dogmatic on the matter, I focus primarily on drink. It may not be a necessity as much as your food…then again the recent food movement has pioneered food from simply being a necessity into something we can explore which has directly influenced the craft of bartending. Essentially, what is non existent in todays paradigm is the same attitude and keen exploration being applied to that of food.

For instance, take sloe gin recipes as an example. Sloes…have a marbled history. Through close inspection it resembles the juniper berry, modest in size, dark and relatively acidic members / relatives of the plum family, which grow on the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), very common throughout Europe. Sloe gin has only fairly recently achieved respectability as a bona-fide beverage, a beverage consisting of only four ingredients (sloes, sugar, Gin and patience). The result of a liqueur that is tart with an abundance of flavour.

Having read numerous articles on the matter, certain articles call for varying recipes, many referencing the use of an inferior gin, the addition of sugar to guise the harshness of the inferior spirit. A question that I seldom get asked. Quality versus quantity? There is no question, without any doubt, that the quality of the base spirit affects the final product. Take a packaged / consolidated product that essentially contains all of the “essential” ingredients to manufacture the “perfect” Cosmopolitan, are they one in the same as constructing this timeless classic with 4 separate ingredients? (Vodka, orange liqueur, freshly squeezed lime and 100% cranberry juice).

The difficulty with drinks is that with minor attention, the same applications that consumers utilise with their food…the quality of their drinks would mirror that of their dining experiences from the humble Gin & Tonic to a well crafted cocktail.

…just a thought

Sloe Gin Recipe:


375 grams of ripe sloes (refrigerate overnight)

750 ml of Bombay Sapphire Gin / Tanqueray

Granulated Sugar

Take Note:

Contrary to what you have read there is very little point in adding sugar at the outset. Saturating the base spirit with sugar prevents it from extracting the natural fruit sugars from the sloes. The idea is to allow the product to macerate and over time add sugar according to preference, yielding consistent batches.

Like all fruit, it is best to pick sloes when they are ripe.

By pricking the sloe you rupture the fruit, allowing flavours to draw out whilst macerating in the gin. Refrigeration ruptures the sloes completely and evenly.


In a large mason jar, add 375 grams of ripe sloes to 750 ml Bombay Sapphire Gin. Store away from direct sunlight. Allow to macerate for 3 months, the longer the better. Add granulated sugar according to taste preference. Shake on a daily basis.

Once you have the desired product.

The Millionaire #4


45 ml Havana Club Anejo Reserva

*20 ml Sloe Gin

20 ml Apricot Brandy liqueur

30 ml fresh lime juice


Shake all ingredients vigorously in an iced cocktail shaker. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wedge

Bartender…make me a Millionaire!

…the alchemist says