Singapore Sling

Cocktails often have a habit of taking on a life of their own, and almost becoming more legend than actual libation. The Singapore Sling by name is a drink that is found on cocktail menus across the country, but the recipes being used take on almost every form imaginable as long as they loosely approximate the slightly foamy fruit-punch image the drink conjures up. It is said that even at Raffels Hotel in Singapore, where the drink was created, the "original" recipe is no longer being served. My recipe below is the same as was listed on a recipe card that Raffles hotel makes (or at least made) available which described the general history of the drink as well as it's recipe. I have reproduced that card in my writeup about the drink below.

Singapore Sling

Garnish: Cherry and slice of pineapple
Shake with ice. Strain into an ice filled Collins glass.
Source: Mr. Ngiam Tong Boon, bartender at Raffles Hotel in Singapore (~1915)
This recipe is essentially as the drink is being served at Raffles Hotel today.

The Singapore Sling

The Singapore Sling is one of those wonderful drinks that we probably have all heard of, but perhaps have never had. And because this recipe is often incorrectly recorded in most recipe books, even if you've think you've had it, you probably haven't.

One of the key, and often overlooked ingredients in this drink is Benedictine. While the resultant flavor is not overly predominate, it does add a certain flavor profile that would be totally missing without this secret ingredient.

None dispute that the Singapore Sling was originally created by Mr. Ngiam Tong Boon for the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. However that is where the agreements end. The exact date is in question, with some people claiming it was in 1915, some 1913, while the hotel itself claims that it was created sometime prior to 1910. There is also plenty of disagreement as to how closely the current version of this drink that is served at Raffles is to what was originally served. Apparently the original recipe was lost and forgotten sometime in the 1930's, and the drink that they currently serve at the hotel's Long Bar (see recipe below) is based on memories of former bartenders, and some written notes that they were able to discover.

  LongBarLogo picture  
The Singapore Sling was created at Raffles Hotel at the turn-of-the-century by Hainanese-Chinese bartender, Mr. Ngiam Tong Boon.
In the Hotel's museum, visitors may view the safe in which Mr. Ngiam locked away his precious recipe books, as well as the Sling recipe hastily jotted on a bar-chit in 1936 by a visitor to the Hotel who asked the waiter for it.
Originally, the Singapore Sling was meant as a woman's drink, hence the attractive pink colour. Today, it is very definately a drink enjoyed by all, without which any visit to Raffles Hotel is incomplete.

30ml Gin
15 ml Cherry Brandy
120 ml Pineapple Juice
15 ml Lime Juice
7.5 ml Cointreau
7.5 ml Dom Benedictine
10 ml Grenadine
A Dash of Angostura Bitters
Garnish with a slice of Pineapple and Cherry

Update: July 14, 2011 - Our good friend David Wondrich has been doing some additional digging into this drink and it's possible origins, and has provided his results to Imbibe Magazine in:

How the Sling Was Slung: Getting to the bottom of Singapore's most famous cocktail.

By David Wondrich

So swing by Imbibe's website to check out what he has to say, including why perhaps this drink wasn't really created at Raffles after all?