Back when I was working in a liquor store, sloe gin (gin flavored with sloe berries, which are related to plums) was usually relegated to the bottom shelf with dusty pints of cherry flavored vodka and other outmoded relics.
This year Ashby and Timo Marshall's Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol rolled out something pretty interesting: a new high quality sloe gin that is supposedly based on their English family's traditional recipe. I think it's one of very few in the market and certainly one of the best quality.
At 27% alcohol by volume, it's rather mild and somewhat sweet and plummy tasting with subtle woody spice notes, really quite pleasant. I've already seen it used in cocktails in Oakland, including a spin on a Hurricane at Double Standard. Sweet and spicy, it's perfectly suited for any cocktail in a tropical or tiki vein. It's great seeing a traditional spirit like sloe gin given a new look and fresh approach, and I think it's one of the most interesting spirit releases of the year.
Spirit Works recommends trying it blended with their conventional dry California gin in this cocktail:
Purple G & T
2 oz Spirit Works Gin
1/2 oz Spirit Works Sloe Gin
Of course there's always also the famed Sloe Gin Fizz.