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This new and improved Alabama Slammer is a retro highball cocktail full of fruity flavor! Perfect for boating, tailgating, and lazy afternoons.

Alabama slammer
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Here’s a 1970’s retro cocktail that deserves a new look: the Alabama Slammer! It’s known as a lowbrow college drink made with trendy low quality liquor. But step up the liquor quality and you’ve got yourself a first-rate highball cocktail! It’s bold, fruity and balanced: perfect for sipping on the patio, at the lake, or just on a lazy afternoon. Here we’ve given a few little tweaks to the Alabama Slammer to take it up a notch and give it a new and improved vibe. Here’s how to make it!

What’s an Alabama Slammer?

An Alabama Slammer is a fruity cocktail made with amaretto, sloe gin, orange juice, and Southern Comfort whiskey. It’s served both as a highball drink and a shot. It was invented back in the 1970’s at the University of Alabama, evoking the super sweet and fruity cocktail vibes of the day.

Back then, low quality bottles of sloe gin were all the rage, neon colored and full of artificial cherry flavor. Today, sloe gin has lost much of its mass appeal. How did we revamp this college party standard into a more refined version of the drink? Keep reading.

Another drink with orange juice and amaretto? The light and fruity Amaretto Stone Sour! It’s a little more refined and uses homemade sour mix.

Alabama slammer

How to make the best Alabama Slammer

The Alabama Slammer has a lot going on flavor-wise: the fruity sloe gin, nutty amaretto, sweet orange and spicy whiskey. Made correctly, this drink is actually a great sipper for lazy afternoons on the patio. Here’s what we did to put a new and improved spin on this drink:

  • Use bourbon instead of Southern Comfort. SoCo reminds us too much of college days (and not in a good way). Use bourbon whiskey in this drink instead for a more refined palate.
  • Use quality sloe gin. The Slammers of the 1970’s used artificial flavored sloe gin. Today, you can find sloe gin made from real sloe fruit: and the fruity flavor is outstanding. (See below for more about this unique liqueur.)
  • Serve it in a highball with lots of ice. This drink is so full-flavored, it’s nice to allow the ice to dilute it a bit.
Sloe Gin

All about sloe gin

Turns out, sloe gin is not at all: so don’t even think about using gin as a substitute! Sloe gin is a British red liqueur that’s made with the sloe fruit and gin. Sloes are fruits that are similar to a plum, but the size of a berry. They grow wild in England, and the Brits have been making it for hundreds of years. Sloe gin is to Britain what limoncello is to Italy (source).

In the 1970’s and 1980’s in America, low-quality bottles of sloe gin with artificial flavors became popular. With neon color and vaguely cherry flavor, it wasn’t made with real sloe fruit at all. These days, “real” sloe gin has come back into style and you can find it at your local liquor store or online. What else can you make with sloe gin? Try the classy Sloe Gin Fizz, Sloe Gin Sour, or other sloe gin cocktails.

Alabama slammer

What’s amaretto?

Amaretto is an almond liqueur that originates from Italy. It tastes both sweet and bitter (amaretto means in Italian “little bitter”). It has such a distinctive flavor, once you’ve had it once: you’ll remember it forever.

It’s worth getting a bottle for your shelf: you can use it in cocktails and in cooking, especially desserts! Other cocktails with amaretto? Try more amaretto cocktails like the classic Amaretto Sour, Italian Margarita, Amaretto Coffee, Toasted Almond, or the two-ingredient French Connection.

Step it up with clear ice!

Here’s another way to step up your Alabama Slammer to star cocktail status: serve it with clear ice! Clear ice is crystal clear ice that’s not cloudy like a normal ice cube would be. You can make it at home and cut it into large, organic shapes like you’d get at a fancy bar. It truly steps up the look of a cocktail! It’s easy to make at home: all you need is a small cooler and 24 hours. Here’s How to Make Clear Ice.

Alabama slammer

More highball drinks

Highball cocktails are drinks with a larger percentage of non-alcoholic mixer, like juice or soda water. In the case of the Alabama Slammer, it’s orange juice! Here are a few more must-make highball cocktails:

  • Tequila Sunrise This vibrant cocktail layers the colors of a summer sunrise using tequila, orange and grenadine.
  • Fuzzy Navel A tasty iconic orange juice highball from the 1980’s.
  • Whiskey Highball Tall, bubbly, and all about the spirit! A refreshing way to enjoy your favorite whiskey.
  • Tom Collins The popular gin cocktail that’s light and bubbly, with a cherry on top.
  • Sea Breeze A classic highball starring vodka, cranberry, and grapefruit on lots of ice.
  • Southside Fizz A refreshing cocktail made with mint, lemon, lime, and gin: a mashup of a Tom Collins and a mojito!

When to serve an Alabama Slammer

The Alabama Slammer is a refreshing highball with a laid back vibe. It’s perfect to drink as a:

  • Lazy afternoon drink
  • Boating drink
  • Lake house drink
  • Patio drink
  • Tailgating drink
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Alabama slammer

Alabama Slammer (New & Improved!)

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
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This new and improved Alabama Slammer is a retro highball cocktail full of fruity flavor! Perfect for boating, tailgating, and lazy afternoons.


  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) amaretto
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) bourbon (or Southern Comfort)
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) sloe gin*
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) orange juice
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)
  • Garnish: orange wedge and cocktail cherry


  1. Add the amaretto, bourbon or Southern Comfort, sloe gin, and orange juice to a cocktail shaker. Fill it with ice and shake it until cold.
  2. Fill a highball glass with ice, and strain the drink into the glass. If desired, garnish with an orange wedge.


*Sloe gin is a British red liqueur made with sloe fruit: you can find it at your local liquor store. (Gin is not a substitute.)

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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