The most popular of the slings*, the Singapore Sling is a beautiful summer drink that was created exactly 100 years ago. Like many of the classics though, it has a long, muddled history. You don’t get to be a century old without forgetting some details about the early years, after all.
News flash: Singapore is hot and humid. The average daytime high is 31℃ (88℉) all year ‘round. There is only one rational thing to do in that type of climate and that is to find a refreshing cold drink. Often, that would be the ubiquitous Tiger beer. But in 1915, Raffles Hotel laid claim to the invention of the Singapore Sling. The only issue is that they’re not sure what the recipe was.
The going assumption is that it was some mixture of gin, citrus juice, soda, and probably cherry brandy. It could’ve also had Bénédictine and maybe skipped the citrus. It’s been hard to say. Luckily, Imbibe Magazine points out that some new research into period newspapers, made available as part of Singapore’s National Library, points to cherry brandy (or sometimes red wine), gin, citrus, water, ice, and optionally some Bénédectine.
*To make things even more complicated, this isn’t even technically a proper sling. Slings are usually a combination of a spirit, sugar, and water. They could be served hot or cold, and actually pre-date even the venerable Old Fashioned. The Singapore Sling is actually more of a tiki drink, hence your permission to get wild with the garnishes.
If you want to make one now, you’ll have to make a decision about all this. The following are the ingredients that most people agree upon.
1 ½ oz gin
¼ oz Cherry Heering
¼ oz Cointreau
¼ oz Bénédectine
¼ oz grenadine
1 oz lime juice
¾ oz pineapple juice
2 dashes Angostura
Add all ingredients, except for the soda and cherry, into a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled collins glass and top with club soda. Garnish with cherry. Optionally, garnish with just about anything! Pineapple wedges, lime peel, mint, umbrellas…
While many sources now agree on what ingredients should be in a modern Singapore Sling, they certainly do not agree on the proportions. The ones listed above are what we found to be the best, but we won’t fault you if you want to fool around with them.
What you’ll end up with is a beautiful-looking, refreshing, simultaneously sweet and tart drink. (Anthony probably described it best when he compared it to rocket candies). It pairs very well with a linen suit and a view of the pool, if you can swing it.