If you enjoy sloe gin, you might like to try a variation, using the young leaves of the blackthorn instead of the sloes.
In May, find your blackthorn hedge and after celebrating the fact that normally you’d be standing here on a cold autumn day with freezing fingers picking sloes, pinch off the flexible ends of the branches (not the gnarled and lichen encrusted twigs), where the leaves are bright and fresh.
Put 1 cup of the flexible blackthorn branch tips and leaves into a screw top jar with 350ml of gin, seal the jar and give it a shake. Leave the gin for a week, shaking gently every day and then strain the leaves out and bottle the pale green gin.
Drink with tonic or however you generally drink your gin.
For an extra special Blackthorn Gin & Tonic, you could make your own Blackthorn Tonic Water. A bit extreme? Maybe. But if you’d like to give it a try, follow the instructions for Home Made Raspberry Tonic Water, replacing the raspberries with ½ cup of blackthorn leaves, half the coriander seeds with juniper berries and leave out the orange zest.