Sloe Gin Abidjanaise, an African Holiday Recipe

Sloe Gin Abidjanaise, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Bissap steeping in gin.

I’m a southerner at heart; and, in the Tidewater Region of the Southeastern United States, our holiday tradition revolves around festive open houses.  For us, an ideal open house consists of champagne, the ubiquitous holiday punchbowl, cocktails on demand, and a smorgasbord of appetizers.

The most famous of these, which gets my memory banks fired up every holiday season, is salt-cured ham (known as country ham) and cocktail biscuits, finished off with a variety of sweet, spicy and savory spreads.  Suffice it to say, the appetizers are the meal, and folks linger, visit, and laugh for hours over their drinks and nibbles.  The nibbles become the dinner.  It’s sort of like a good tapas party.  So, naturally, I strive to re-create this feeling every Christmas, wherever I may be in the world.

For starts, we need to have the right drinks, and punch bowls are not an option in a place that’s 100° in the shade at Christmas (unless you like drinks that are watered down with gallons of melted ice).  So, I needed another recipe…..

Enter Sloe Gin Abidjanaise, an original African cocktail base, which retains the gorgeous red color and rich flavor of bissap, while infusing it with gin, a beverage which is routinely used to solemnize sacred occasions throughout West Africa.  What could possibly be more appropriate?  And, the best part is, it’s dead simple.  You can whip up a batch of this gin in no time flat, and wow your friends and colleagues at your next holiday event!

Sloe Gin Abidjanaise, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Mise en place for Sloe Gin Abidjanaise.


1 L good quality gin
130 g turbinado sugar
350 g bissap (dried hibiscus flowers, available at Latin and African markets)


  1. Combine gin and sugar in a non-reactive bowl.  Stir until sugar dissolves completely.
  2. Pick over bissap, discarding any loose sticks or other foreign objects.
  3. Rinse lightly in strainer under running water, to remove dust, sand, and other impurities.  Drain thoroughly.  (Be careful, bissap will bleed, and it stains.  Keep the strainer in the sink.)
  4. Add bissap to bowl with gin and sugar.  Stir gently.
  5. Leave the mixture in a warm place for one hour.  Stir once again, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Remove from refrigerator.  Leave in a warm place, stirring gently every 2 hours for 8 hours.
  7. Refrigerate overnight once again.
  8. Remove from refrigerator.  Stir gently.  Strain and decant into decorative bottles for home use or gifting.
Sloe Gin Abidjanaise, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Gin and turbinado sugar mixture.

Stay tuned for our other Foodie Friday posts this December.  We will be introducing you to some African-inspired appetizers and even Sloe Gin Abidjanaise cocktails!

If you haven’t already, please do sign up to receive My French Heaven’s lovely blog posts and help us win a long overdue St. Emilion honeymoon by leaving a comment saying that you were referred by Jeanette from Global Grazers.

Adapted from:  Bissap Gin,

15 responses to “Sloe Gin Abidjanaise, an African Holiday Recipe

  1. Pingback: Sloe Gin Abidjanaise, an African Holiday Recipe | West African Food |·

    • They’re really delicious (and very good for you). If you give this recipe (or the virgin bissap recipe) a try, please do let us know how you like it:)

    • We are all so flattered we don’t know what to say. It is a huge honor for us to receive this award from you!! Your blog is a wonderful source of inspiration and we’ve all been so grateful for the very warm welcome you’ve given us to the WordPress community. Thank you!!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s