How To Make A Singapore Sling, The Official Cocktail Of All-Inclusive Hotel Resorts

The Singapore Sling is a cocktail with a rather confusing history. It’s based on the classic sling formula for cocktail making, but throughout its long history, has undergone so many variations that recreating the original recipe is practically impossible. Nevertheless, it still remains a popular choice for cocktail drinkers, appearing on most menus (particularly in hotels).

While the exact recipe may be debated, everyone can agree the Singapore Sling should at least contain gin and be red in its appearance. An attractive drink for sure, it’s also one that teeters on the sweeter side of the palette and depending on the sort of hotel you find yourself drinking one in, could have all manner of fruit attached to the glass.

But a classic it remains, so knowing how to make one at home will have your friends and family slinging your praises. But first, a history lesson.

Origin Of The Singapore Sling

The Singapore Sling, in its earliest iteration, is said to have been invented sometime around 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon, a bartender from Hainan – the smallest and southernmost province of China – who was working at the Raffles Hotel, Singapore. The Raffles Hotel, founded in 1887, was – and still is – a hangout for the rich and famous. The Colonial-style hotel was named after British statesmen Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of colonial-era Singapore.

Ngiam worked in Long Bar within the hotel’s walls, which as Gin Foundry claims had “images of ‘flapper’ girls and suited young men adorning the walls.” The bar is not only the place the Singapore Sling was invented, but was also host to famous faces such as Charlie Chaplin and playwright Noel Coward.

When it was first conceived, the Singapore Sling was actually called a gin sling. A sling – which as a naming convention came from the German word ‘schlingen’ meaning “to swallow” – is a drink that is made with sugar, hot or cold water, nutmeg and a spirit. Modern-day practices now see a sling made with gin, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters and soda water, of course, traditionalists may see this an entirely incorrect.

The Singapore Sling nomenclature is no doubt now to commemorate the country in which it was invented.

Singapore Sling Ingredients

While the naming and time of the invention of the Singapore Sling are resolutely agreed upon, the actual ingredients that go into making one are subject of serious debate. D.A. Embury, an American attorney and author of cocktail encyclopedia Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, was once quoted as saying “Of all the recipes published, I have never seen any two that were alike.”

Despite various bars and authors citing their own variations, the ‘official’ ingredients list reads like this:

  • Gin
  • Cherry Brandy
  • Cointreau
  • Bénédictine
  • Grenadine
  • Pineapple juice
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Angostura bitters
  • Pineapple slice and cocktail cherry to garnish
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Highball glass

There may be other variations that you have already come across, but they should all at least follow the conventional formula of a gin sling, which combines gin, citrus, a sweetener and sofa.

Classic Singapore Sling Recipe Measurements

With the extensive list of ingredients to hand, the official Singapore Sling measurements read like this:

How To Make The Singapore Sling

  • Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
  • Shake well until chilled
  • Strain into a highball glass
  • Garnish with pineapple and glacé cherry on a cocktail stick

This method is, unsurprisingly, also subject of debate. Some suggest you should strain the mixture over fresh ice in the highball glass, while others say you should top it up with soda water. Because there are far too many variations to list, we’d suggest you simply have fun with experimenting with methods and ingredients until you find something you truly enjoy.

How To Drink A Singapore Sling

If you’re not able to make it to an upmarket hotel to drink a Singapore Sling from an elegant piece of glassware while on a hot date – or at least, the drinks you always hope to have after a successful dinner – then the next best way to enjoy is one on a lilo or sunbed, around the pool of a three-star hotel on the Spanish coast.

Singapore Sling FAQ

Why is the Singapore Sling famous?

Widely regarded as Singapore’s national drink, the Singapore Sling is a must-order when you are in the island. The iconic cocktail conceived in the Raffles Hotel will cost you around $30.

How potent is a Singapore Sling?

This cocktail goes relatively easy on the alcohol, usually mixing up to 15 percent ABV. This is average for highball drinks, like vodka tonic and 7 and 7.

Is Singapore Sling a girly drink?

While the pink color of the cocktail is definitely giving girly vibes, the Singapore Sling’s well-balanced and refreshing flavor is also well-loved by the men drinker population.

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