Blackthorn Cocktail Recipe

Marleigh Riggins Miller

There aren't nearly enough cocktail recipes these days that feature sloe gin—it's probably because (until recently) there weren't many palatable sloe gins on the market. Traditionally made in England by macerating blackthorn (often called "sloe") berries in gin, sloe gin is a product you could rarely find stateside in any form that resembled true sloeberry gin. Fortunately that changed with the introduction of products from the likes of Plymouth and The Bitter Truth, both of which are now readily available and quite delicious.

The Blackthorn from Esquire's Handbook for Hosts uses sloe gin to great advantage, subtly underlining the natural sweetness of the liquor without turning it into a gin-berry punch. It's important to use a good quality sweet vermouth here; you'll be using a whole ounce, and that much bad vermouth can sink the drink. My preferred sweet vermouth is Carpano Antica, though Dolin Rouge or Punt e Mes would also both be good choices.

This cocktail is tasty and intriguing, at turns sweet, savory, and spicy, with hints of cloves and cinnamon. It's something like a cold mulled wine, which is perfect for the holidays. As a bonus, it's dead simple to make. The recipe makes one three-ounce cocktail, but I like to split it into small cordial glasses and serve as an aperitif.

Recipe Facts

Active: 5 mins
Total: 5 mins
Serves: 1 to 2 servings

Rate & Comment


  • 2 ounce sloe gin

  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth

  • Dash Angostura bitters

  • Lemon peel for garnish


  1. Fill a mixing glass or shaker tin with ice and add the sloe gin, vermouth, and bitters.

  2. Stir well until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or two cordial glasses.

  3. Squeeze a lemon peel over the top and drop the peel into the drink. Serve.

Special equipment

Mixing glass or shaker tin, cocktail or cordial glass

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
89 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 to 2
Amount per serving
Calories 89
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 15mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)