Drink of the Week

The Singapore Sling

  • 1 oz. London dry gin
  • 1 oz. Bols Cherry brandy or Cherry Heering
  • 1 oz. Bénédictine
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 2 oz. soda water
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients except soda water and bitters and shake in ice.  Strain in an ice-filled collins glass and top with soda water. Dash with Angostura bitters.

Today is my Dads birthday, so I thought it would be a fun idea to put up a drink in his honor. 🙂

This is a drink that has specific memories to me from my childhood. I used to go with my family to Australia almost every year and on a number of occasions we would stop over in Singapore for a few days. I can remember my dad was always excited when he arrived, he would get unpacked then announce to the family “I’m heading down to the bar for the first Singapore sling of the trip.”  As we were fortunate enough to stay at the gorgeous Raffles Hotel on many occasions, it is easy to understand why this was his recurring drink of choice.

When I first decided to write about the Singapore Sling, I hadn’t quite appreciated how much confusion revolved around its recipe. The drink itself is fairly well documented and most would agreed that the first recipe was created by Ngiam Tong Boon at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, Singapore, between 1900 and 1915.

However, there is suggestion that the drink may have existed already under the name ‘Straits Sling’ before Tong Boon brought it over to Raffles.  The original recipe has always been disputed, because there are numerous variations in existence that call for different ratios and ingredients.  The above recipe is from research by David Wondrich on the Sling, but if you were to go to Raffles 20 years ago you would receive another version most likely changed sometime in the 1970s by Ngiam Tong Boon’s nephew.

According to Wondrich, new data in the form of a searchable archive of Singapore newspapers shows the earliest reference to a sling is from 1897, nearly 20 years before the Raffles Hotel supposedly created it.  Today, many of the “Singapore Slings” served at Raffles Hotel have been pre-mixed and made using an automatic dispenser that combines alcohol and pineapple juice at pre-set volumes. They are then blended instead of shaken and include pineapple juice to make them more appealing to the ‘American tourists’ in a Tiki style drink.

I always remember seeing a ‘Recipe Card’ in the lobby of Raffles hotel that I believed to be the original recipe, however my research has shown that The Raffles Hotel management has always admitted that the original recipe card was in fact lost at some point during the 20th century.  The recipe in the photo above is variation 26!

With or without pineapple juice, with Cherry Heering or with Dry Cherry Brandy instead, this drink has a lot of history, is refreshing, flavorful and ideal for hot sticky summers in Singapore.

For me the appeal is its sentimental value because of the fond memories I have of my father sitting in the lobby of Raffles enjoying his pink drink.  If I ever return to Singapore in the future i’m sure I will make a point of stopping in at Raffles to order one for myself, if only to keep up the tradition.

Happy Birthday Dad!

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2 Comments

Filed under Drink of the Week

2 responses to “Drink of the Week

  1. Dad

    Thank-you Sarah for such a lovely tribute. I share your memories with a mixture of joy and wistfulness – nothing for it but to mix your recommended recipe this very day. Cheers!! Dadxxx

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