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What is a Singapore Sling?

By Grayson Millar
Updated May 16, 2024
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A Singapore Sling is a gin- and brandy-based cocktail that originated in Singapore, now officially the Republic of Singapore, and has been served since at least 1915. The drink is one of a wide range of chilled cocktails that often incorporate various types of fruit juice and pieces of fruit. There are, however, several different recipes for the drink and there is even some question about the accuracy of transcriptions of the original recipe.

At some point prior to 1915, though some have claimed the drink was created in 1913 and some in 1910, Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese-Chinese bartender at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, created the Singapore Sling. Ngiam Tong Boon's recipe was seemingly lost and bartenders at the hotel re-created the recipe from memory, which many have led to some changes. The cocktail was initially intended as a drink for women and, for this reason, includes fruit juice and fruit and is colored pink, though the drink soon became popular with both women and men.

The recipe for the Singapore Sling transcribed by bartenders at the Long Bar and preserved by the Raffles Hotel calls for the following quantities of liquor and liqueur: 1 oz (about 30 ml) gin, 0.5 oz (about 15 ml) cherry brandy, 0.25 oz (about 7.5 ml) Cointreau, and 0.25 oz (about 7.5 ml) Dom Benedictine. Generally, the liquor and liqueur are combined in a cocktail shaker with 4 oz (about 120 ml) pineapple juice, 0.5 oz (about 15 ml) lime juice, 0.33 oz (about 10 ml) grenadine, and a dash of Angostura Bitters. Next, the mixture is shaken with ice, strained into a tall glass — such as a Collins or Zombie glass — and garnished with a slice of pineapple and a cherry.

Variations on this earliest recorded recipe are numerous, even at the Raffles Hotel's current Long Bar and elsewhere in Singapore. For example, a majority of modern Singapore Sling recipes call for canned pineapple juice — perhaps due to the efforts involved in acquiring fresh pineapple juice — and add carbonated water to compensate for the foamy head produced by the fresh juice. Some recipes also call for the drink to be served over ice, and the cocktail is sometimes prepared blended instead of shaken, which additionally allows for preparation in automatic dispensers. Other variations include sweet and sour and carbonated water instead of fruit juice and are prepared unstirred in the glass.

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