Stir, strain, up.


This is from the 1926 "revised" edition - the 1901 version is 2/3 Tom Gin and 1/3 Sloe Gin with 2 dashes orange bitters - quite a bit stiffer.

Cocktail summary
Posted by Dan on
Created by
St. Boltoph's Club, Boston
Is an
authentic recipe
Not yet rated
3.5 stars
(7 ratings)
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  • A little on the sweet side for me.
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This recipe seems under-rated. I wonder if it is the ratio or if people are using cheap/terrible sloe gin?

There are, at least, three types of cocktails that vye for the "Blackthorn" name. Sloe berries are the fruit of the Blackthorn tree & this concoction is probably the one that should have the title [though other have (humorously) proposed Irish whiskey-based concoction being credible due to where Blackthorn trees are grown].

This recipe dates to pre-1926 [when it appeared in Bolton's Sideboard]. Dave Arnold's recipe [1.5 oz Plymouth/0.75 sweet vermouth/0.75 sloe gin/2 dashes bitters] is better-balanced than this version.

<br />I tried the revised "Blackthorn English" recipe submited by commentor noksagt. I used Plymouth Gin, Hayman's Sloe Gin, Dolin sweet vermouth, and Bitter Truth's aromatic bitters. Personally, I did not find this particular cocktail to be well balanced. I don't know whether Hayman's sloe gin is considered a better brand, but I thought it overwhelmed the rest of the ingredients. If I were to make this libation again, I would probably turn to Cinzano's sweet vermouth, which has pronounced fruity overtones thatmay soften the sloe gin. Also, noksagt did not specify the type of bitters to us; in the future I will probably fall back on orange bitters. Regardless, I rated noksagt's suggested version of "Blackthorn English" at 3.0.

So this was one of those original drinks on KC that I  ran across and saw it was in need of fixing. The earliest I can trace this back is to a 1901 private "Sideboard for Gentlemen" published for the St. Boltoph's Club in Boston, MA. It's been around since 1880 and had members including Henry Cabot Lodge, Francis Parkman and Phillips Brooks (who wrote the lyrics to O Little Town of Bethlehem). Thanks,  Zachary