Sloe Sour Bitch
The Sloe Sour Bitch is my signature cocktail. It is without a doubt the most popular and most iconic of my creations. It’s one of those cocktails that really has it all. It’s got the taste, the name and the looks. Quick and easy to make alone or by the dozen. It appeals to men and women alike. And it is neither too strong nor too sour – aspects which sometimes hold good cocktails back from greatness.
The Sloe Sour Bitch is a complex Sour, meaning it consists of multiple alcoholic ingredients rather than just the one. Essentially, it is a gin sour with the additional flavour components provided by sloe gin and apricot brandy.
But the taste is what really sets it apart. It tastes like no other drink I’ve ever tried. The best way to describe it being is similar to those sugar coated jelly sweets I used to eat as a child. The type that almost fizzed in your mouth. Except that my Bitches are alcoholic.
I created the Sloe Sour Bitch in late 2007. At the time I was performing detailed research and experimentation into Sours. Uncovering the knowledge which would one day find its way into this blog.
I was experimenting with fruit liqueurs, trying to determine which would make a good Sour. And I hit upon the idea of using sloe gin and apricot brandy. Though I was on the right track, I found that using a shot of each to make my Sour resulted in a taste which was simply overpowering. Those two liqueurs are simply too strong (in flavour) on their own. So I cut the quantity of each in half and replaced them with gin to excellent results.
Yes, you read that right. The Sloe Sour Bitch had to be “watered down” with gin!
Simple Sours benefit from the purity of taste of a single citrus juice to match a single spirit. But I have found that complex Sours benefit from the use of both lemon and lime juice as well as bitters. They help to bring out the complex flavours of the multiple liqueurs. Egg white, however, sometimes has a negative effect on complex Sours. Taking something away rather than adding it. This is true of the Sloe Sour Bitch, hence it is omitted.
Making a Sloe Sour Bitch is simple. It requires no muddling, churning, dry shaking or any other time consuming techniques. In bars I shake it but that’s only for speed and efficiency. You could scale it up to make it by the jug if need be.
So, into your Boston glass goes: one shot of gin; 1/2 shot sloe gin; 1/2 shot apricot brandy; juice of 1/2 lemon; juice of 1/2 lime; a dash of bitters; and 10-15ml sugar syrup to achieve the correct balance of sour. Shake, then strain into a short glass over ice.
Ideally my Bitches should be garnished with Physalis (Cape Gooseberry), but they’re not fussy. This looks great and has an interesting and complementary taste. Plus people often mispronounce it. And it makes perfect sense that a Sloe Sour Bitch would have syphilis…
Note that if you choose to use home made sloe gin for a Bitch you may have to drop the quantity a little. Home made sloe gin tends to be stronger in taste than the mass produced stuff. So to get the right balance you’ll need to use less of it.
Legend of an Iconic Cocktail
I created the Sloe Sour Bitch in Cambridge in late 2007. It went on the menu in March 2008…by popular demand! By that time dozens of people had tried it, loved it, then brought their friends in to try it. They also loved it and it became a cult classic. A group of female students even named their drinking society after it, becoming known as the Sloe Sour Bitches.
I’ve lost track of the number of women who jokingly said it was named for them. In actual fact naming it was easy. It’s a Sour, made with Sloe gin – what’s the next word that springs to mind? I know what sprung into my mind…
The name illustrates my principles regarding naming cocktails. That they should be naughty and risqué instead of technically accurate and politically correct. The word Bitch jumps off the menu at people. This in part accounts for its popularity since the name alone attracts attention. And once they’ve tried it, they’re hooked. The technical term for this process is being Bitchslapped…
To underline this principle, in two bars I worked in after creating it, the Sloe Sour Bitch was on the menu in full. In both bars, one in Cambridge and one in the West End of London, it became an iconic cult classic. A true legend. Everyone loved my Bitches! But in the third bar the owners refused to have the word Bitch on their menus. While it was popular, it never achieved the same status. Not even close.
When I started working in that London bar I couldn’t make it as we didn’t stock apricot brandy at first. When a new bar manager came in he brought in some apricot brandy as he wanted to make an “award winning” cocktail of his own creation. I don’t remember what that cocktail was anymore. I told him I could make a good cocktail with apricot brandy too. The first time he tried one of my Bitches he was more than a little crestfallen by how good it was. Both cocktails went on the menu, and my Bitches outsold his “award winning” cocktail by over ten to one.