Singapore Sling – Original Recipe & History

Singapore Sling

Singapore Sling

5 from 1 vote Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: Singapore
Servings

1

servings
Calories

259

kcal
ABV

11%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a classic Singapore Sling.

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Kirschwasser

  • 1 oz Benedictine

  • 1 oz Dry Gin

  • 5 oz Soda Water

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker. Add ice to the shaker.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into a glass with ice.
  • Top off with soda water.

Notes

Featured Video

The History Of The Singapore Sling.

The Singapore sling was invented in 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon while working at the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The Singapore Sling was listed as a simple gin sling on the cocktail menu, but its uniqueness garnered it the nickname of the Singapore Sling. Like Henry Ramos thought of his famous cocktail as standard gin fizz, the rest of the world saw it as a Ramos gin fizz.

Early cocktail history from Singapore is almost non-existent. The earliest documentation of the Singapore Sling comes from the 1939 “The Gentleman’s Companion, An Exotic Drinking Book,” where author Charles Baker jr. recounts his wild drinking adventures in 1920s Southeast Asia. The book’s structure is terrible and reads more like a man stroking his ego than a cocktail book, but It’s incredible a book like this exists. There are some fantastic and unique drinks in it I would like to incorporate when I have the time. In the book, Charles Baker jr. tells a story about him and a friend drinking Singapore Slings at the Hotel Raffles in 1926. The recipe he provides is substantially different from what you will find today. Different from the ones sold at the Ruffles Hotel today. The recipe he gives is more like a traditional sling, whereas most modern recipes are tiki-like. Not quite a traditional sling, but close enough. In the 1800s, Slings were another name for a toddy, and most 19th and early 20th-century cocktail books grouped the two. If you would like a detailed account of sling and toddy history, check out the “The History of Sling Cocktails” section below.

According to Charles Baker, Ngiam Tong Boon’s original recipe was equal parts dry gin, cherry brandy, and benedictine, shaken together and poured into a highball glass with ice. The drink was then topped off with soda water (that’s the weird part. A traditional sling uses standard water) and garnished with a lime peel.

Interestingly, this recipe appears in the 1948 edition of Trader Vic’s Bartenders Guide but is named the Raffles Hotel Sling. The Singapore sling recipe listed in that book looks like the juice and syrup kind we are typically used to seeing today.

What Does The Singapore Sling Taste Like?

The Singapore sling is herbal, boozy, lightly sweet, and refreshing. It’s more similar to a Japanese highball than a sweet tiki cocktail. It’s delicious and something I can easily drink 2 or 3 of. The primary flavor in this is the Benedictine, while the other two spirits add backbone and fortification to the Singapore Sling. I vastly prefer this original Singapore Sling to the contemporary versions of it.

Is The Singapore Sling Tiki?

The original Singapore sling is not a tiki cocktail, but the modern recipes are tiki-like. The original Singapore Sling is mostly sling-like (technically, it should be classified as a highball), and over time it evolved into the juice and syrup-filled cocktail it is today. I have a feeling the Singapore Sling recipes filled with pineapple juice, grenadine, and such that we are used to today were invented in the tiki world.

The History Of Sling Cocktails.

Slings are a very old style of cocktail. Even in Harry Johnson’s 1888 edition of The Bartenders Manual, he comments under the cold whiskey sling that “This is an old-fashioned drink generally called for by old gentlemen.” The oldest cocktail book I could find to have a sling recipe is the 1862 Bartenders Guide by Jerry Thomas. He has three recipes for both hot and cold slings. Interestingly enough, he groups both slings with toddies. The only difference is slings have nutmeg grated on top, and toddies do not. Often most early cocktails started as medicinal drinks, and the brandy and gin sling appear in a few medical journals from the 1830s.

In the August 1832 Boston medical and surgical journal, on page 15, the author notes giving a patient 1 to 5 grains of opium with a hot brandy sling to treat spotted fever and malignant cholera. Further linking its history to toddies, I found a September 1845 court case of the Massachusetts Commonwealth vs. Chester R. White. He sold a toddy/sling to a Mr. Edwin T. Rogers without a spirituous liquor license. Mr. White argued that it contained an ingredient that was a spirit, but the mixed drink itself was not a spirit. Mr. White did not win the case, but the court documents’ wording of the drink is essential.

“It was sold in the form of gin and brandy, mixed with sugar and water so as to make what is called a toddy or sling.”

The court documents recognize toddies and slings as analogous to each other. In a case about the exact definition of a spirituous beverage, the court referred to the same drink as being called both a toddy or sling. Seventeen years later, Jerry Thomas would see toddies and slings as the same thing, and so did this court. This makes sense too. If you check out my Hot Toddy article, I describe how in the 18-century, toddies were used to administer medicines. Sling appears to be a later way of describing a toddy as a drink one throws back. I assume that this is perhaps due to how people often quickly drink medicine to avoid undesirable flavors. Etymologically the word sling entered English from the old Norse word “Slyngva,” which means to throw or knockdown, and this is the more common usage, but about the drink, the word sling comes from the German word “Schlingen,” which means to swallow. Webster’s American dictionary dates this usage of the word to have entered the American dialect around 1807.

The more popular Singapore Sling and Straits Sling bear no resemblance to the traditional sling. It seems they were referring to them as slings to be more for fun alliteration than to refer to how the drink should be consumed.

Recipe Resources

Related Articles

Advertisements
Advertisements

Discover More Classics

Advertisements

Blood & Sand – Original Recipe And History

Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: British
Servings

1

servings
Calories

158

kcal
ABV

20%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the amazing Blood and Sand cocktail from the 1934 Savoy Cocktail book.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 oz

  • Orange Juice
  • 2/3 oz

  • Cherry Liqueur
  • 2/3 oz

  • Sweet Vermouth
  • 2/3 oz

  • Scotch

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker and add ice to the shaker.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into glass to remove ice shards.

Notes

Featured Video

What Does a Blood & Sand Taste Like And Why Is It Called That?

What a gross name for such a tasty drink. It’s named after the 1922 silent film Blood and Sand. The movie is about a young matador who gets caught up in the glitz and glamour of bullfighting, has an affair, and dies while trying to redeem himself. I never saw it, that’s what IMDB says, but it sounds like a typical 1920s movie. I shouldn’t make fun of its period; one of my favorite movies, Metropolis, is from 1927. The taste is hard to describe because a lot is going on in this drink. It’s half Rob Roy/Manhattan, and the other half is tequila sunrise-like. I guess that’s the best way to describe it. It’s like a Manhattan, and a tequila sunrise had a baby.

A Short History Of The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel In London.

In 1893, The American Bar at the Savoy hotel started serving American-style cocktails in London to the British upper class. The American Bar has always been a high-end bar but what set it on the map was when Harry Craddock became its head bartender in the 1920s. Harry Craddock was a British-born bartender who immigrated to the United States, eventually becoming a US citizen and head bartender of several high-end hotel bars. Still, Harry found himself out of work with the start of prohibition in 1920. He then immigrated back to England and became head bartender of the Savoy Hotel’s Bar. Harry transformed The American Bar from a high-end bar to one of the seminal cocktail bars of the 20th century. As the American prohibition was ending, the hotel realized it should record all of its most famous recipes and the innovations Harry brought to the bar. A year later, they published the Savoy Cocktail Book. Printed in 1934, the Savoy Cocktail Book documents the bar’s best recipes from the 1890s to the 1930s and stands as the pillar of prohibition-era European cocktail innovation. If Jerry Thomas’s Bartenders Guide is the best cocktail book the 1800s gave us, then The Savoy Cocktail Book is the best cocktail book of the first half of the 1900s. I don’t think I will ever be able to drink there, though. A cocktail cost around $250 there, and they have one that’s almost $1000, and I’m not the Amazon guy, so good thing we have their recipe book.

Recipe Resources

Related Articles

Advertisements
Advertisements

Discover More Classics

Advertisements

Rose Cocktail No.3 – Recipe

Rose Cocktail (French Version)

Rose No.3 (Currant Syrup)

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: French
Servings

1

servings
Calories

156

kcal
ABV

25%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the Rose cocktail with currant syrup.

Ingredients

  • 1 oz

  • Currant Syrup
  • 1 oz

  • Kirschwasser
  • 2 oz

  • Dry Vermouth

Directions

  • Add Ice To Mixing Glass. Combine all ingredients in the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 20 – 30 seconds to properly chill and dilute the drink.
  • Strain into glass.

Notes

Featured Video

The Rose Cocktail Made With Currant Syrup

The Rose made with currant syrup is very good, but if you live in the United States, it may be difficult to find it. Currants farming has been banned for almost 100 years in the US as currants commonly carry a fungus called white pine blister rust that nearly decimated American white pines in the 1910s. The fungus is benign to currants but kills American white pine, and in 1911, currant farming was federally banned. It is no longer restricted at the federal level, but many states where white pine blister rust is still an issue ban the cultivation of currants. It’s not really a big issue for this cocktail, as all three recipes for the rose are similar enough. The red syrup is more for color than flavor. So you can use whichever red fruit syrup is convenient.

Other Versions Of The Rose

There are three standard versions of the Rose, each with a different syrup to provide a beautiful light red color. One recipe uses raspberry syrup, another uses currant syrup, and the third uses grenadine. The recipe that uses raspberry syrup comes from Frank Meier’s 1936 book “The Artistry of Mixing Drinks.” Meier credits the Rose cocktail to Johnny Mitta of the Chatham Bar in Paris, France. Funny enough, the recipe that uses currant syrup also credits the recipe to Johnny Mitta. That recipe is recorded in Harry McElhone’s first book, “Harry of Ciro’s ABC of Mixing,” from 1923. McElhone and Meier were both very skilled bartenders, so it’s doubtful they got the recipes wrong. Perhaps Mitta changed his recipe over time, and the currant syrup recipe is simply the older version Mitta served. Who knows.

To complicate the matter even more, the 1922 book “Cocktails: How to Mix Them” by Robert Vemeire credits the creation of the Rose to Sidney Knight of the Hotel Cecil in London and his recipe uses grenadine. All three are dry vermouth cocktails but none are alike, and who knows if it was Johnny Mitta or Sidney Knight who invented this cocktail. In David Embury’s 1948 book “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” he even provides four different recipes for the rose and credits Mitta for creating the drink, but then he mentions a third person named Albert as a creator too. He then says that the Sidney Knight recipe is American, which Vemeire said 20 years earlier was instead invented in London. If the famous bartenders of that time couldn’t figure it out, then we sure won’t.

Recipe Resources

Unfortunately I don’t have a free link to the 1922 book “Cocktails: How to Mix Them” by Robert Vemeire or the 1948 edition of Embury’s book, but the 1961 edition is the same.

Related Articles

Advertisements
Advertisements

Discover More Classics

Advertisements