In case you missed it, Elzaan and I got back from a mini vacation a couple of weeks ago. Singapore was one of our destinations and the Singapore Sling sat pretty high up on our to do list.
As far as cocktails go, this one is pretty old (well, not this exact one. These were made fresh. 🙂 ) in fact, it was celebrating its 100th anniversary at the Raffles Hotel. The supposed home of the Singapore Sling.
Now, my research has proven that the true origins of this drink, together with the original recipe, have all but disappeared in the mist of time, so for the purpose of this post I’m going with the story I liked best and share with you the version of the drink I enjoyed at the Long Bar.
In a classic story of boy meets girl, a young officer buys the youngest daughter of a silk merchant a drink at the bar. Playing it cool, as all gentleman should, he requests that the barman send a drink over, but not just any drink, a special drink, one that would match the colour of her beautiful red lips. The obliging barman Ngiam Tong Boon, whips up a a gin based cocktail with all the exotics notes of Singapore. So? Did it work, or did the officer just end up with a pink pineapple juice concoction on his freshly pressed khakis? Lets just say, if it’s happily ever after you want, have your barman invent a drink for a lady.
Now, the Raffles Hotel has its fair share of bars and restaurants, but the Long Bar is the legendary home of the Singapore Sling, and as we quickly found out, a MAJOR tourist destination. When we arrived we were met with a massive queue at the door and a packed bar, thankfully the queue moves at a rapid pace and once inside, it’s worth every minute spent waiting outside.
The feel is typically colonial, with a long dark teakwood bar and a beautiful spiral staircase going up the middle. The only thing distracting you from its colonial beauty is the crunching sound under your feet, something we would later discover to be empty peanut shells. We sat down on two wicker chairs as the waiter brought us a fresh bag of peanuts and we ordered our Singapore Sling together with a Tiger beer – but no one wants THAT story.
The reason I decided to write and share this post was that we had read a lot of bad reviews on the Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel. Tales of pre mixed drinks and sugary sweet concoctions being pushed across the bar, the original drink lost to the barrage of tourists flooding the place daily. I am happy to report, this wasn’t true.
Every drink is made fresh. It’s made in mass, but it’s made fresh!
The bartenders here don’t have much downtime because the one thing that is true, is that this place is a massive tourist destination and almost everyone there is ordering a Singapore Sling. So how do they do it?
They have specially designed trays holding rows and rows of shakers filled with ice and individually filled (all be it at a rapid speed) with the individual ingredients:
30 ml (1 oz) gin
15 ml (1/2 oz) cherry brandy
120 ml (4 oz) pineapple juice
15 ml (1/2 oz) lime juice
7.5 ml (1/4 oz) Cointreau
7.5 ml (1/4 oz) DOM Benedictine
10 ml (1/3 oz) grenadine
A dash of Angostura bitters
The shakers are then individually shaken and poured, leaving each pre chilled glass to be finished off with a slice of pineapple and cherry.
Is it the best drink I tried in Singapore? Certainly not. And at a little under R350 (about $30) it certainly wasn’t the cheapest. But after a long hot day of walking around town, it certainly hits the spot. I didn’t find it overly sweet either and the pineapple and lime really stand out amongst the mess of flavours. I don’t know if I would of had another one or even ordered one at a different bar had I been given the chance, but not because there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just not really my kind of drink.
Was it worth it? Absolutely! The experience alone is totally worth it. The bar is spectacular and youve never eaten a more delicious peanut in your life. If you find yourself thirsty in Singapore, do yourself a favour and stop at the Long Bar will you.
Okay. Stay fancy.