I love Christmas, but this year it took me by surprise a bit. I didn't get around to writing one card (Sorry. I love you all. Next year…), didn't manage one Christmas night out with friends and was generally a bit too busy, with a few too many house guests, to sit back and enjoy either the run-up or the actual event.
On the actual day, come the evening and after serving slightly undercooked turkey to 12, I wanted a fast track to relaxation. It was an itch that wine couldn't scratch, so this is where my new best friend came in. Sloe gin - or supermarket morphine, as I prefer to call it - saved my Christmas. I saw it on the shelf at Waitrose on Christmas Eve and on impulse shoved it in the trolley. It is distilled by Sipsmith, who are just down the road from me, and as I met the owner once at a party, I thought it would be rude not to buy it. (Any excuse.)
It was £15 and 29% alcohol. Bargain! It was also delicious. Served chilled in shots, it was a perfect pep me up. I did try it in champagne, but found I pretty quickly lost all control of all limbs and bodily functions. Now I understand why gin is referred to as Mother's Ruin. If you haven't seen Hogarth's Gin Lane etching (pictured here), take note.
Apparently, sloe gin is easy to make. So if you have a good recipe (or intriguing ways to drink it) please let me know. Next Christmas I plan to be much more organised, if not with cards and catching up with friends, then by setting up a micro gin distillery in my spare room by mid-October.