How to: Make the Perfect Singapore Sling in 2 Easy Ways

June 20, 2019

Have you ever fell in love with a cocktail just by reading or hearing about it? Well, here is the story about an exotic drink that survived throughout the time. It used to be one of the most popular drinks at the beginning of the 20th century. Shrouded in a bubble of mystery, it is still one of the most famous creations of Singapore and a reappearance of its colonial past.

Singapore Sling was invented at the Raffles Hotel Long Bar in 1915. Since then, it has been synonymous to the hotel. With its luxurious design and the tropical gardens, Raffles Hotel was the number one holiday resort for the rich and the famous living in Singapore. At this time the traditional customs didn’t look kindly upon women drinking alcohol in public. Therefore, the Hainanese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon was challenged to make an alcoholic drink that looked like a fruit juice. It was known as a gin sling at the beginning, and was quite welcomed refreshment for the warm climates of the region.

Somewhere in the 1930s, without any particular reason, it began to lose its popularity and the formula faded away with time. Luckily for us, the recipe was rediscovered based on notes found on napkins from hotel’s bar, somewhat adjusted, but most importantly making the delicious drink available again! The reborn of this gin-based cocktail was followed by many variations. Its ability to adapt to the modern drinks made Singapore Sling one of the most favorite cocktails for more than hundred years.

If you feel like tasting it already, go ahead and give it a try! If you are afraid that you won’t make it right, don’t worry. Even the experts cannot agree on the resemblance to the original recipe.

“Copyright: Unsplash/author:Ash Edmonds / I License: CC0 Public  Domain”

The legendary way (classic)

Singapore Sling is considered as a relatively easy drink. The term “sling” in the name refers to a drink made with mixe of spirit, sugar and water. As the legend has it, it was made to be a lady’s drink only. Pink in color it was consisted out of gin, cherry brandy and juice (orange, lime or pineapple). The irresistible taste comes from all the different flavors that have gradually developed into a well-balanced composition. Most probably, that is the reason behind the long-lasting legacy of this cocktail.

The following recipe is considered as the one closest to the original version. An additional ingredient that adds to the iconic taste is closing your eyes and imagining the hot Singaporean days.

·         30 ml of a good quality gin

·         7.5 ml Cointreau

·         7.5 ml DOM Benedictine

·         10 ml grenadine

·         120 ml pineapple juice

·         15 ml Cherry-Heering brandy

·         15 ml lime juice

·         2-3 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients into a shaker, add ice cubes and shake well. Strain into highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a fresh cherry and orange or pineapple slice.

Feel free to adjust the old recipe to your own preferences; make it taste stronger or fruitier.

“Copyright: Unsplash/author:Louis Hansel / I License: CC0 Public  Domain”

The modern way (tropical)

Singapore Sling is a tropical cocktail, a perfect choice for the summer days. It is one of the most famous names in mixology, and part of the Tiki culture and its colorful drinks. The modern version recipe is based on the original one, just a little bit sweeter, but still pretty much tasty.  

This recipe is very simple and easy to prepare whenever you feel like you need to cool down and relax, alone or in a good company.

·         35 ml of dry gin

·         15 ml Cherry-Heering brandy

·         10 ml Benedictine

·         10 ml Cointreau

·         25 ml unsweetened pressed pineapple juice

·         15 ml fresh lime juice

·         10 ml grenadine

·         2-4 dashes of aromatic bitters

·         Soda water

Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice, except the soda water as it will explode. Shake well. Strain into a tall glass and add ice cubes to fill. Garnish with orange or lemon curl and mint sprig. Don’t let the number of ingredients intimidate you because it is still an easy drink to make, and to consume.

Today it is one of the oldest drink formulas with many versions approximate to the first recipe, all of them heavenly tasty. As with other historic drinks, there are many disagreements over what the original recipe is. Some of the experts believe that the origins of this drink can be traced back in the 1890s and that Ngiam Tong Boon only adjusted the recipe to an already existing formula. However, most of the disagreements about Singapore Sling are whether pineapple juice should be added or not. At the end, this makes it even more fun cocktail to experiment with.

An interesting fact is that two same recipes of this drink have never been found, so who knows? Maybe some of you will come up with the secret ingredient and will solve the mystery of this great cocktail for good.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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