How to make a sloe gin fizz in Portland to toast Loretta Lynn

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Are you looking for a way to honor Loretta Lynn’s legacy today, after learning of her death at 90? Here’s a plan: First listen to the song “Portland, Oregon” and then find (or make) a sloe gin fizz.

In the song, Lynn and Jack White recall drinking sloe gin fizzes by the pitcher and then taking a pitcher to go, which doesn’t sound like something the OLCC would condone, but does make for an evocative song lyric.

But what even is a sloe gin fizz?

Well, it turns out that a sloe gin fizz doesn’t contain gin at all, but instead something called “sloe gin,” a liquor made from sloe berries, which grow wild in England.

Sloe gin is a pleasing reddish, purple-y color and you can easily make your own sloe gin fizz to toast Lynn – most recipes call for sloe gin, simple syrup, lemon and soda water.

We tried a recipe from The Spruce Eats by Colleen Graham that called for 2 oz. sloe gin, .75 oz. lemon juice, .5 oz. simple syrup and 1 to 3 oz. of soda water to taste.

drink and ingredients on table

Toast Loretta Lynn with a sloe gin fizz.Lizzy Acker/The Oregonian

Shake the sloe gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice and then strain into a glass. Add ice and water to taste.

If you want to make a pitcher, you will need to do some multiplication.

The end result looks and kind of tastes like a sweet cough syrup, and one wonders just how much poetic license was taken with the amount of sloe gin fizz Lynn and White sang about. But maybe after a pitcher or two, the taste grows on you.

Still, it’s an easy enough drink to make, if you want to do something a little ridiculous to honor the queen of country music.

If you want to drink a sloe gin fizz in “a booth in the corner with the lights down low,” well, you will need to find a place with booths and sloe gin fizz. Which is harder than it may sound. We were unable to find a place in Portland with a sloe gin fizz on the menu and, since it’s a specialty liquor, it isn’t stocked in every bar.

So your best bet might be to focus on ambiance and hope for the best. The Driftwood Room or The Sapphire Hotel are both nice places for a cocktail in moody light and the bartenders there could certainly whip up some type of gin fizz, even if they don’t have sloe gin.

Pink Rabbit Bar and Bible Club are also vibe-y spots where you could ask for a sloe gin fizz or a regular gin fizz or something else completely if you want.

Do you know of a place that serves a sloe gin fizz in Portland? Let us know! Bonus points if they ever served Lorette Lynn.

— Lizzy Acker

503-221-8052; lacker@oregonian.com; @lizzzyacker

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