Mrs. Bennet: some people hate her, some people love her, and some people just cringe and try to sympathize with her. Because let’s be honest – she has a lot to worry about: five daughters with small fortunes, a negligent husband, and an entailed estate. Any mother would see it as her duty to get those girls married off before Mr. Bennet dies, when they might all be turned out by the Collinses to starve in the hedgerows! I know the hedgerows line only comes from the 1995 mini-series, not the book, but it’s a great line, so I’m going with it.
How could I evoke this classic mother in English literature in a drink form? When I read about traditional sloe gin, I knew I had found it! Anyone can make sloe gin if they have two things: good gin and sloes. A sloe is the berry-like, astringent fruit of the blackthorn. Where do you find them? Why, growing wild in hedgerows all over England! Perhaps the servants at Longbourn had a batch of sloes steeping in gin during that rainy week leading up to the Netherfield Ball.
Gin, of course, is a very British spirit. Historically, it was a drink for the lower classes, but began to rise in prestige through the 19th century. Isn’t that true of Mrs. Bennet too? A country attorney’s daughter who married into the lower gentry because of her good looks and bubbly personality, she ends the book as no less than the mother of the mistress of Pemberley! How’s that for upward mobility?
Now, the “sloe gin” commonly found on American shelves is just a sugary liqueur that doesn’t use actual sloes or even actual gin. But you can find the good stuff. I used Plymouth Sloe Gin. It is definitely not sweet, syrupy red! If you like a tart drink, like me, the sloe gin fizz may be just the thing to put you in the mood for a ball. As a bonus, it’ll take the edge off your poor nerves.
Mrs. Bennet’s Sloe Gin Fizz
- 2 ounces Plymouth Sloe Gin
- 1/2 -1 ounce fresh lemon juice, to taste
- about 1/2 ounce simple syrup, to taste
- 2 ounces club soda
- lemon wedge or slice
- Add sloe gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker filled half way with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled. Taste then adjust with additional lemon or simple syrup/sugar. Shake.
- Strain cocktail into a glass filled with ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with lemon wedge.
Gifs by whatslost-canbefound on tumblr
Did you miss the first round of Jane with a Twist? Get caught up here:
- Introducing #JaneWithATwist
- KC Kahler: Cider in Northanger Abbey country; the Henry Tilney
- Linda Gonschior: General Tilney’s Order
- KC Kahler: Horridly Gothic Cocktails for Catherine Morland and Isabella Thorpe