It’s Friday … Have a Drink: Singapore Sling

It’s Friday … Have a Drink: Singapore Sling
Our weekly recommendation.

I covered this drink a couple of years ago in my Tiki Drink article, but let’s dive a little deeper here and talk about its history. To do that, we first need to understand the word sling, which is not unique to this cocktail, but rather a now mostly-obsolete term used in frontier-era America to define a drink comprised of spirits, water (or other liquid), and sugar. A precursor to the cocktail—originally a sling with bitters added to it, now a catch-all description for a mixed alcoholic drink—the sling is now only recognized in the names of a few cocktails, of which The Singapore Sling is likely the most well-known.

If a sling is a mixture of alcohol, water, and sugar, then the Singapore Sling certainly qualifies, but that hardly seems a reasonable way to sum up an eight-ingredient drink. This cocktail is a whole lot more than a traditional sling, featuring a base liquor and three accent liqueurs, plus two different types of fruit juice, plus grenadine and bitters. That’s a lot of stuff going on, even before you add in the soda water. The good news is: with that amount of flavor, there’s no reason to be concerned that the soda’s going to dilute it too much. The cocktail is flavorful, goes down easy, and packs a wallop.

Created exactly one hundred years ago this year by Ngiam Tong Boon, a bartender at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and originally called simply a ‘gin sling,’ the drink soon came to be known by the location of its nascence. The Raffles still exists, and they still serve the Singapore Sling, though it’s long since spread to bars around the world. Until the recent craft cocktail renaissance, the Singapore Sling’s most common ingredient list included sour mix and the kind of grenadine that’s basically just corn syrup dyed pink. How unfortunate! Thankfully, times have changed, and you can find a lot more places that are adhering to the original recipe (or slightly variants). As always, fresh juices and real pomegranate grenadine are a must. You’ll taste the difference!

Combine all ingredients (except soda) in a cocktail shaker over ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled Collins glass. Top with soda water and stir gently. Garnish with a Luxardo maraschino cherry and fruit of your choice!

Liquors in parentheses are what I used when I made this recipe, and are included as suggestions.

Christopher Buecheler is a novelist, a web developer, an award-winning amateur mixologist, a brewer, a guitarist, a drummer, and an NBA enthusiast. He lives a semi-nomadic life with his wife and two cats, currently residing in Providence, RI. You can learn more at his website, cwbuecheler.com.