This inaugural ‘Cocktail Canon’ bit is dedicated one of the crown jewels of the world of cocktails: the Singapore Sling. Needless to say, my adoration for this drink runs deep and fierce.

The credit for creating the Singapore Sling goes to a Ngiam Tong Boon maybe 100 or so years ago (1915 is the stated year of origin). The actual year of creation is disputed, along with whom the creator is, and also the original recipe. Just some more lost tidbits of drunken history that man may never be able to actuate into fact. That’s the fascinating thing about the history of alcohol: it’s normal to be inaccurate and therefore never unnecessary to debate over.

singapore_raffles_hotel
The Raffles Hotel in Singapore

Ngiam Tong Boon was a bartender at The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel Singapore. According to Raffles, the cocktail was created with the bar’s female clientele in mind. Early twentieth century women couldn’t publicly consume alcohol as per British etiquette (Singapore was a British colony). Boon designed the drink around those restrictions. He purposely designed the drink to appear pink and gaudy similar to a tropical punch style beverage. The original recipe is said to contain gin, grenadine, Benedictine, lime juice, pineapple juice, Angostura bitters, and Cointreau (give or take).

If it sounds like a tiki-style drink, it’s because it basically is. It’s fascinating that the original and common recipe calls for gin, a British staple, but otherwise is built just like a rum fueled tiki cocktail. However, the Singapore Sling is totally unaffiliated with anything Polynesian.

There’s also multiple “original” recipes. The aforementioned recipe is taken from the Raffles website. Speaking as a barman however, I do not make my Singapore Slings to those dimensions. I prefer the alternate original which is Gin, Cherry Heering, Benedictine, pineapple juice and bitters; all equal parts (excluding the bitters of course). But even then I deviate from the frothy tipple I just described and instead opt for something less profoundly juicy as fresh pineapple.

My version is just that: my version. And really, it isn’t even mine. I’m not the original script writer for this play on the Singapore Sling. I just like it this way for myself. If a guest approaches my bar desiring the national imbibement of the island city-state Singapore, I’ll make them the original recipe fond to my heart:

Singapore Sling

1 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Benedictine
1 oz Cherry Heering
1 oz pineapple juice
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Soda water

Shake all (except soda) in a shaker with ice. Strain over fresh ice into a tall glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a cherry.

For me and my comrades, I came up with a slight variation that sings to my soul and dances down my throat…

Singapore Sling (variation)

1.25 oz Ron Del Barrilito Rum
1 oz Benedictine
1 oz Cherry Heering
1 oz lime juice
0.5 oz pineapple gomme
3 hearty dashes Angostura bitters
Soda water

Shake all (except soda) in a shaker with ice. Strain over fresh ice into a tall glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a lime wheel and cheery on a cocktail pick.

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