October is the perfect time to make sloe gin. The best time to pick the berries is after the first frost, but you want to leave enough time for it to mature by Christmas, so I'm doing it now.
You will need:
Half a bottle of gin (British, of course)
Lots of sloe berries
100g caster sugar
I am lucky to have a lot of sloe berries growing near my house. The best place to find them is in hedgerows out on country walks in the autumn. You might also be able to find them at farmer's markets.
Wash the berries and prick them with a cocktail stick so that they can infuse with the gin. This is the laborious part of the process and the real reason why they call it sloe gin. Fill up most of the bottle and pour in the sugar and shake well. You'll need to shake the bottle once a day for a couple of weeks, and then once a week until Christmas.
In late December, strain the liquid into another bottle (or back into the cleaned bottle) and enjoy with ice or in cocktails on snowy nights.
You can use sloe gin in a G&T, or alternatively a great cocktail is a sloe gin royale. Use 25ml sloe gin, 75ml champagne and decorate with a raspberry or such like. Cheers!