It’s been said that the Singapore Sling was invented, by coincidence, at the famous Long Bar in Singapore’s Raffles Hotel. According to Daniel Tiator, “A female guest was depressed. She drank a fruit punch and asked the bartender if he could not ‘add a little alcohol in order to cheer me up’,” and there you go: the invention of the Singapore Sling.
I don’t know if that anecdote is true, but I do know the drink was invented by the Hainanese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon, some time before 1915. Another thing I know is that it tastes damn good. I tried it in the Raffles Hotel in the summer of 2016. It was a must-do for me when I was in Singapore.
Why A Must-Do Thing?
One of the reasons I had to try a Singapore Sling was that my wife, Lise, had talked about it a lot, and her parents had too. Lise’s parents lived in Singapore as expats in the mid-90s, and they’ve reminisced often about the Raffles Hotel and the famous Singapore Sling. After all, if anyone could offer insight into what’s worth visiting and what’s worth trying in Singapore, it’s them.
The Raffles Hotel paints, for me, a romantic picture of the Colonial Far East and the long-ago. It sits in stark contrast to Singapore’s modern skyscrapers.
Raffles Hotel has been host to many celebrities. All kinds of notable people, from actors to singers, and even nobility, have spent time in the Raffles Hotel. We’re talking Charlie Chaplin, Beyoncé Knowles, and Queen Elizabeth II, among many others. I’m not really someone who gets starstruck, but if Raffles can attract such big names, there must be something about the place. And that’s what attracted me.
Enough Talk About Why: How Was It?
I can say it in one word: fantastic. The old building’s scenery, the atmosphere, the rich tapestry of the past, the heat, the humidity: together, it all brings your mind back to colonial days.
All kinds of people were gathered at the Raffles Hotel. Some were tourists, like us, who had decided to enjoy a Singapore Sling at Raffles, while others reminded me of how it must have been back in the day. There was a British gentleman, probably in his late-60s or early-70s, who had the behavior, demeanor, and accent of a perfect gentleman. This gentleman’s presence, taken in combination with the old building, created the ideal atmosphere to enjoy a good evening (and, of course, a drink).
Lise and I ordered a Singapore Sling. When it arrived at our table, it didn’t disappoint; it was well-created. The signature pink color was perfect, and it was garnished with pieces of fresh fruit.
The taste didn’t disappoint either. It was sweet, but still had a twist of bitter. All in all, it was perfectly rounded. I do like sweet drinks (I like pretty much anything that tastes sweet), and so, for me, it was a perfect drink. The taste made me feel I needed to order one more, then one more, and…
Since enjoying a Singapore Sling at Raffles, I have tasted the drink on three more occasions: two at different hotels in Singapore, and one at a hotel on Bali. None of them tasted half as good as the one I had at the Raffles Hotel. It might be the atmosphere at Raffles or some magic ingredients— I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s worth the trip to taste the real thing.
If you haven’t planned to go to Singapore, and you find it a bit expensive to go to Singapore just for a drink, don’t worry. I’ve found the recipe for a Singapore Sling, and I want to share it with you.
There are endless recipes for making a Singapore Sling. Personally, I found that this recipe from Wikipedia was very good.
- 3 cl Gin
- 1.5 cl Cherry Liqueur (cherry brandy)
- 0.75 cl Cointreau
- 0.75 cl DOM Bénédictine
- 1 cl Grenadine
- 12 cl Pineapple juice (Best made with fresh pressed pineapple juice, but from carton or bottle will also be fine)
- 1.5 cl Fresh lime juice
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake the ingredients well in a cocktail mixer. Garnish the drink with pineapple.
If you want to master the creation of a Singapore Sling, you actually have the option to participate in a Raffles Singapore Sling Masterclass!
Raffles Hotel is located at:
1 Beach Road
You can visit their website at http://www.raffles.com/singapore/
A Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel is rather pricey. I can’t recall the exact price, but it was about 25 – 30 sgd. That comes out to $21 USD, or £17.