When I began looking through my library for references to the Singapore Sling, it immediately became apparent that I could easily turn this article into a recipe comparison. The variety of recipes was astounding. So astounding, in fact, that I’ve decided to save the comparison for another time. Instead, I’d like to marvel at how wonderfully complex and joyous this cocktail can be. Every sip affords you a sweet, tart, aromatic, bitter, and herbal flavor. It is truly the result of a master’s work, every ingredient amount tweaked to perfection to create a balance not often seen in cocktails containing more than a few ingredients, let alone nine.
Now, for a bit of history. The Singapore Sling was created by Ngiam Tong Boon at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. But, of course, it’s history cannot be that simple. Dr. Cocktail offers up nearly a research paper on the history on this drink in Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails, so I won’t go too deep, as he has gone there and beyond. This drink came about from a confusion on the type of cherry brandy employed in a Straits Sling. The original drink (2oz gin, 1/2oz kirschwasser, 1/2oz Benedictine, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 dashes orange bitters, 2 dashes Angostura bitters) uses an eau de vie, which is much drier than a cherry brandy although not as dry as maraschino liqueur… the intrigue and wonder of the rest of this story are indeed breathtaking, but they must be saved for another time… the drink is calling.
- 1 1/2oz gin
- 1/2oz Peter Herring Cherry Heering
- 1/4oz Cointreau
- 1/4oz Benedictine
- 2oz pineapple juice
- 1 dash Angsostura bitters
- 1/4oz grenadine (homemade)
- 1/2oz lime juice
- club soda
- orange slice and maraschino cherry, for garnish
Shake all ingredients except the club soda with ice, and strain into a highball glass. Fill mostly full with ice, and top with the club soda. Garnish.
The Craft of the Cocktail, Dale DeGroff
Some bystanders may pass right over this drink, calling it just another sweet drink, but those who look further will be surprised to find a hidden complexity beyond that first sip. It’s possible to pick out nearly every one of the ingredients as they work their magic on your tongue. The Benedictine is key to the depth of this drink, and the Angostura bitters could not be left behind. The Cointreau isn’t merely a sweetening agent, but lends a subtle orange peel taste to match with the aroma of the garnish. I feel like I could go on forever depicting all the flavors that are bouncing around in my mouth, but I shall leave you with the following to ponder. The Peter Heering, although mostly masked, is the key component that really bringing the rest of the ingredients to life.
My photoshoot ended abruptly as the wind picked up and knocked over the my Singapore Sling. I just sat there for a minute, awestruck at the power of the wind and wondering if I had gotten a good shot. Content that I had, I jumped up and went back in to make myself another. Singapore Slings are not hard to make. They are hard to stop making.