A liqueur made from gin, and not surprisingly, sloes, the fruit of the Blackthorn. The only other ingredient needed to make this fine drink is sugar.

I've come across a couple of different recipes for sloe gin: one simple and one less simple. Both methods require the same treatment of the sloes. Pick after they've been touched by frost (or put them in your freezer overnight.) The frost will reduce the bitterness of the fruit apparently. It's recommended to prick the fruit individually, but to be honest, I just roll them about with the prickly side of a grater.

You need half as much sugar as gin and two thirds as much of sloes, so 750ml of gin needs about 375g of sugar and 500g of sloes.

The simple method is to merely to combine the sugar, gin and sloes in a jar and leave it for a few months, shaking the jar every week or so to agitate the mixture. I've made some tasty stuff using this method in the past, but this year I'm trying the more complicated method:

First place the gin and the sloes in a big container, but not the sugar. Leave this mixture for five or six weeks, agitating a couple of times a week. After this step, drain off almost all of the liquid and put aside for later. Add the sugar to the fruit in the original container and put this back in the cupboard for a further few weeks, shaking regularly again. This is the cunning step; as the sugar solution is so strong, it draws out more juices from the sloes by osmosis and also removes any expensive gin that the fruit may have sucked up for itself.

The sugar should completely dissolve, at which point you can pour out this rich mixture and combine it with the previous lot to make the final liquid. This should then, ideally, be matured for six months at least, before filtering and drinking. The temptation is usually too much though.