The Singapore Sling

Sling it back to me…

The Singapore Sling

If I had only started this blog a couple of years ago we could have had a bit of a birthday party for this great drink. Harking from 1915 (although accounts differ) this King of the slings is truly one of the greatest drinks ever to occupy a Collins glass. Don’t be put off by the long ingredients list, none of them are at all exotic and should all be in the dedicated cocktailien’s cabinet to start with. And don’t be tempted to skip that mere spoonful of Benedictine, the edgy tang it adds is absolutely essential.

The superbly refreshing Singapore Sling is a summer cooler that can still sock you a real sucker punch. It’s a lot stronger than it tastes and as such I’d suggest enjoying it with a meal rather than just before one. While we know it was created by Ngiam Tong Boon at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, we really wish we had the original recipe. Unfortunately the Raffles lost it and spent decades pretending their re-invented version was the original. Fortunately cocktail archaeologists like Ted Haigh and Jeff Berry were able piece the recipe back together and banish the lime cordial and sour mix from the Singapore Sling forever.

The Singapore Sling has the look and feel of a Tiki drink but a good few years before the emergence of that joyous genre. It seems perfectly plausible that Tiki godfather, Don the Beachcomber, passed through the Raffles Hotel on his inspirational world tour and paid some attention to the popularity of this drink. Switching the gin for rum (and rum was much easier to come by in the US in the last days of prohibition) would perhaps have created the template for Tiki, along with such Caribbean staples as the Planters Punch and Daiquiri.

To save you a lot of trouble sifting through the many recipes that exist I’ve come up with a version that treads the middle ground between authenticity (as far as we can tell) and familiarity. Still, there must inevitably be two versions. The soda version is the more authentic and the pineapple version the more familiar. They are both so good I can never quite choose between them, although for cocktail novices I suggest the pineapple version first – it’s more popular as well as being more forgiving of small errors.

The Singapore Sling

2oz dry gin (no need to go high end here)

1oz Cherry Heering (a widely available Danish liqueur)

1 teaspoon Benedictine

0.75oz lime juice

0.5oz Cointreau, or another triple sec

0.5oz grenadine (recipe here)

1 dash each of Angostura and orange bitters

Shake with ice. Strain into ice filled Collins glass.

Add either 2-3oz of soda (old school) or 2-3oz pineapple juice (modern). Stir.

Toast Ngiam Tong Boon for this masterpiece of liquid engineering.


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