I must have read F. M. Mayor's 'The Squire's Daughter' and 'The Rector's Daughter' before I started blogging, which is frustrating because whilst I remember how much 'The Squire's Daughter' moved me I don't remember as much as I'd like about the plot. It's also the hardest of the 3 titles that Virago re-printed to get hold of - but I do occasionally see it in charity shops, which is where mine came from. Do not leave it on the shelf if you spot it!
Mayor is a brilliant writer, she got a bit of a boost about a decade ago when (I think) Susan Hill recommended 'The Rector's Daughter' which probably is Mayor's best book. Radio 4 also did it as a book at bedtime, but I think it's sunk back into relative obscurity which is a shame.
I found the recipe for the 'Sloe Gin' in Ambrose Heath's 'Giod Drinks' (another underrated classic). It's 2 parts Sloe gin, 1 part French Vermouth, 1part Italian, mixed well over ice. I've made something like this at work just mixing sloe gin and Italian Vermouth (it also worked well as a long drink with tonic or ginger ale) which went down really well.
Using Sloe gin gives a distinctly country edge to this cousin of the Martini, the vermouth fixes the cough medicine notes that I associate with Sloe gin - it's a drink that's much more than the sum of its parts. It's another one that makes for perfect autumn/winter drinking and would be an interesting party option (I'm willing to bet nobody will have tried it before).
I also think it's the perfect companion for 'The Squire's Daughter', it's the mix of town and country, of Sloe gin getting a Martini makeover, the mix of sweetness, spice, and a hint of something bitter. A drink almost as complex and layered as Mayor's writing.