Beauty and Fashion

Sloe Motion: For Author Lottie Hazell, an Annual Gin-Making Ritual Guarantees Glad Tidings

Sloe Motion: For Author Lottie Hazell, an Annual Gin-Making Ritual Guarantees Glad Tidings

The season, for me, starts in October. It is secretive, this beginning, as the rest of the world continues about its usual, autumnal business: school runs, talks of daylight savings, soup. I, meanwhile, am watching for the first sign of Christmas, looking for it on lichened branches.

Sloe berries, purpled and clustered on blackthorn, their crushed velvet skin midnight after a summer of green. Yearly I am thrilled to see them – my festive portents, my starting pistol, my excuse to begin plotting the year’s Christmas eating. Sweet, infused gin for gifting needs two months to steep at least and I am pleased, in October, to savor a private moment of planning. Like the arrival of mince pies in the supermarket, the appearance of sloes ripe for the picking encourages a quiet nostalgia, a solitary sentimentality for candles lit, tables laid, and togetherness. Christmas is coming.

I take pleasure in the planning, the preparation, and sloe gin is a process from harvest to bottling. The picking has always been a family affair and puts me in mind of the past: foraging in the autumn mist with my parents and sister, my maternal grandmother. We would shrug on the prospect of our traditions like festive jumpers, gleeful with the familiarity of it, the comfort. There might be a crumble for tea when we got home. Scrumped apples softening as sloes were washed at the sink. In recent years it has been my husband’s and my fingers that have stained blue, berries cupped in our ungloved hands, as we debate potential puddings for the day: Christmas cake, tiramisu, trifle. The dessert discussion is taken seriously as we put sloes into our pockets, stash them in Tupperware. The prospect of our table, full, fills me, and I imagine future years in which our children will accompany us, old enough to have their small hands among the branches, making requests for sticky toffee pudding, for panna cotta, for whatever sweet prospect fills their hearts too.

These seasonal traditions, these sloes: a portal into the past, the future.

In the passing weeks—November, early December—the gin is forgotten. An enormous Kilner jar filled with cheap liquor, caster sugar, and the best of the berries darkens in a seldom-used cupboard. The days rush by. Tinsel, party invitations, school plays. Marks & Spencer buffets, brandy butter on everything.

We decant in mid-December: bottles sterilized; washers, crumbled with use, replaced. A funnel lined with muslin catches the gin but our hands, and somehow our faces and necks, become sticky. There is always a little too much gin and what we don’t bottle, we drink. We laugh. We fall asleep on the sofa in the light of a tree, red-cheeked, lips still lifted.

It is not the drinking that is this gin’s pleasure—although the drinking is delicious, sweet and syrupy and lip-smacking over ice—but the gifting: for my foraging family, for my in-laws. I have been squirreling scraps of ribbon, foiled paper, and brown paper tags for bedecking. Lined up, the 250ml bottles are lanterns, jewel-bright. They are Christmas past, present, and future. And at last, they are ready to give, nearly three months and a lifetime in the making.

Piglet by Lottie Hazell (Macmillan, $28) is out on 27 February 2024

Written by
Jackson Fashionista

Greetings, fashionistas! I'm Jackson, setting trends and redefining beauty in the world of fashion. Join me in exploring the latest styles, beauty tips, and the art of expressing individuality through fashion. Let's make every day a stylish adventure!

Related Articles

Trendy nail art designs for short nails
Beauty and Fashion

Trendy Nail Art Designs for Short Nails 2024

Welcome to the exciting world of nail art! If you have short...

Eco-friendly sustainable fashion brands in 2024
Beauty and Fashion

Top Eco-Friendly Sustainable Fashion Brands 2024

Welcome to the transformative era of the fashion industry in 2024, where...

Guide to selecting non-comedogenic foundations
Beauty and Fashion

Guide to Selecting Non-Comedogenic Foundations

If you struggle with acne-prone or sensitive skin, finding the right foundation...

Fashionable athleisure outfits for yoga enthusiasts
Beauty and Fashion

Stylish Athleisure for Yoga Fans | Shop Now

Are you a yoga enthusiast who values both style and comfort in...