For this edition of Around the World in 50 Classic Cocktails, we’re getting a touch tropical with the Singapore Sling.
Refreshing, pink in hue, and a perfect antidote for humidity, the Singapore Sling is one of the rare classic cocktails whose origins are relatively straightforward. Though some prototypical versions likely existed previously, the cocktail as we know it today was invented in 1915, in Singapore’s iconic Raffles Hotel, by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. (In fact, his cocktail recipe books are still kept in a safe in the hotel’s museum.) Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the drink, and we celebrated in true Sipsmith fashion by crafting our own Sipsmith Raffles 1915 Gin, which makes use of pomello and other delicious Asian botanicals.
Spotted from across the bar, the Singapore Sling is unmistakable: served in a curvaceous sling glass, the serve is famous for its vibrant colour and frequently comes topped with a slice of pineapple and a cherry. The drink was originally created for the hotel’s female clientele, who were discouraged by the day’s mores from consuming alcohol in public (thank goodness that’s changed). Visually reminiscent of a juice drink, the cocktail is fruit-forward and sweet – but still complex – thanks to its mix of cherry brandy, pineapple juice, lime juice, Cointreau, Benedictine, and grenadine.
Before Singapore, though, the sling was a style of gin serve that has enjoyed popularity since the end of the 18th century. Described as a long serve lengthened with water, sweetened, and sometimes topped with nutmeg (“sling” supposedly comes from the German word “schlingen,” which means “to swallow” – drinkability is clearly the serve’s prize attribute), the Gin Sling has since evolved, and now frequently includes lemon juice as well as vermouth.
The cocktail as we know it today was invented in 1915, in Singapore’s iconic Raffles Hotel
If you’re inspired to try a non-tropical version of the Gin Sling, add the below version to your home bartending arsenal. And do treat yourself as well to a Sipsmith-style Singapore Sling (preferably made with Sipsmith Raffles 1915 Gin, though London Dry Gin should also work smashingly). For our version of the classic, we’ve altered the recipe to make it drier, with more opportunity for the complex botanicals in the gin to shine through. This refreshing serve is well suited to a warm summer’s eve – or whenever you’re after a brief liquid holiday.
The Gin Sling
30ml sweet vermouth
22ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
30ml simple syrup
Dash Angostura bitters
Add first five ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled, ice-filled Collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with the lemon twist.
The Singapore Sling
50ml Sipsmith Raffles 1915 Gin (or Sipsmith London Dry Gin)
15ml cherry brandy
15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fill a wine glass with lots of very cold ice and add the first four ingredients. Stir to blend. Top with soda and garnish with the orange twist.