Singapore Sling

August 5th, 2008  |  Published in gin, liqueur, recipes, tales of the cocktail  |  5 Comments

Back in the bad old days when we had very few books and even fewer reputable ideas about what good cocktails were, we blogged the Singapore Sling. The recipe had a few of the major particulars right—it used gin and cherry brandy and curaçao—but that was where the similarities ended. Much the same as the Negroni, the guy who wrote our first bartending book had some strange ideas about putting club soda into drinks where it did not belong. Though there is debate over whether or not soda water belongs in a sling (and specifically this sling), in the first recipe I posted the formulation with soda water did nothing for the flavor of the drink, primarily watering it down and making the whole thing “meh.”

In the intervening years, I have supplanted those recipes of yore with the better, more accurate ones, but I have not re-blogged the Singapore Sling. This recipe came from the Juniperlooza session at Tales and was, hands down, one of the best versions of this drink that I’ve ever tried (as Gabriel has also noted).

The Singapore Sling is actually a slightly controversial drink. Created sometime between 1910 and 1915 at the Long Bar of the Raffles Hotel in (where else?) Singapore, the original recipe, likely called the Straits Sling, was lost somewhere in the interim and both the version currently made at the hotel and any subsequent variations are all best guesses based on the memory of older bartenders and some notes found here and there. Without the original recipe there isn’t a conclusive answer to the confusion surrounding the drink, but I must say that I liked this version infinitely more than the last one. Take that with a grain of salt, but do give this version of the Singapore Sling a try.

1½ oz gin
¼ oz Cherry Heering
¼ oz Rhum Clément Creole Shrubb
¼ oz Bénédictine
½ oz fresh lemon juice
2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
dash Angostura

Shake vigorously and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with lime and a cocktail cherry.

The original recipe called for Grand Marnier as the orange liqueur of choice, but I have a major thing for the Clément Creole Shrubb lately, so that’s what I used. It sounds like an awful lot of stuff is going on in this drink, but it really works together surprisingly well. The gin and Bénédictine add dryness and their lovely complex flavors, while the tartness of the lemon and acidity of the pineapple juice mellow out any sugary tendencies. It has a wee bit of spice from the Angostura and a pleasantly citrusy profile, which makes it great for a hot afternoon. It’s also relatively low in alcohol, so it’s perfect to sip while you’re making dinner (I don’t know about you, but I try not to drink heavily while I’m near sharp objects or hot pans).

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  1. Gabriel says:

    August 5th, 2008at 10:39 am(#)

    Nice post Marleigh, and yes, replacing the Grand Marnier is a great way to manipulate this drink. I’ve been using Gran Gala as it gives a sweeter and softer edge to the spiciness of the Heering, Benedictine, and Angostura.

    And, I’ve been making doubles, much to chagrin of my guests…who don’t care for my air mattress all that much.

  2. emilie says:

    August 5th, 2008at 11:04 am(#)

    I had a sling at the Raffles once. It was pretty vile, but one of those “had to have it” things. I’m sure your version is infinately better!

  3. Marleigh says:

    August 6th, 2008at 6:11 am(#)


    An air mattress sounds much better than the floor!


    You’re braver than I—I didn’t even get a Hurricane while I was in New Orleans, figuring that it would be a much better drink in my head than in practice. Not that I would mind visiting Singapore…

  4. Chris says:

    August 11th, 2008at 8:29 pm(#)

    Your recipe for a Singapore Sling with Creole Shrub sounds great and the website is too.

    Charles H. Baker Jnr. – ‘Around the world with Jigger, Beaker & Flask’, is a good place to look if you want a first hand account of Singapore Sling drinking, in Singapore, in 1926…

  5. Marleigh says:

    August 12th, 2008at 9:36 am(#)


    Thanks for the tip. I guess I’ll have to settle for Baker’s account, since I’m unlikely to get to Singapore anytime soon.

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