Heering back in US with full swing!

Having been reared in British pubs, I was pretty good at dealing with barroom customers when I came to this country in 1973, but cocktails were completely beyond me.
We didn’t do cocktails in Lancashire. We did beer in Lancashire.
Because I wanted to tend bar in America, I had to learn how to sling slings, shake sours and muddle mojitos pretty quickly. On the advice of a friend, I stationed myself at the end of the bar at Drake’s Drum, a Manhattan watering hole on the Upper East Side.
Night after night I sat there watching every move the bartender made, spending no more than 10 bucks per shift. I knew the bartenders at Drake’s Drum. I was on scholarship. A few weeks later, figuring I could probably bluff my way through a shift, I applied for a job at the Drum, and my life behind bars in the USA began.
Revelers back then were fond of brandy Alexanders and grasshoppers and Jack Rose cocktails and whiskey sours, which, until a waitress caught me, I made with Scotch.
Singapore slings were pretty popular back in the ’70s, too, though I cringe when I recall the formula we used at the Drum: cheap gin, a few drops of Benedictine, a splash of pineapple juice, some god-awful sweet-and-sour mix and a splash of grenadine for color. We topped the drink off with a splash of club soda, threw a cherry and a slice of orange on top, and voila, our customers were transported to the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where the drink was reputedly created by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon in the early 1900s.
Well, not quite. The formula for the drink served at the Raffles Hotel calls for fresh lime juice, some Cointreau and a little cherry liqueur. We were far too cheap at Drake’s Drum to put cherry liqueur in our Singapore slings, but for special customers – big tippers, that is – we might add a little Heering, an incredibly good product from Denmark.
Heering stands head and shoulders above most other cherry-flavored liqueurs – it comes complete with a wonderfully nutty backdrop, presumably from cherry pits, and it’s this aspect of Heering that sets it apart from the rest.
There’s a chance that you’ve never sampled Heering since availability has been sparse at best over the past few years. But I’m happy to report that the liqueur is now back in full swing, so if you want to savor a Singapore sling as Ngiam Tong Boon might have made it, you’ll be able to find all the right ingredients.
Singapore slings weren’t the only drinks I made poorly at Drake’s Drum. On my second or third shift, one of the bosses asked me for a dry vodka martini.
“Make it extra dry, please, Gary,” he said. “Extra dry.”
I remember thinking that, if a dry vodka martini is made with vodka and dry vermouth, then an extra-dry version must call for extra dry vermouth …
The Singapore Sling
Makes 1 drink
Adapted from the recipe at the Raffles Hotel, Singapore. There’s no soda in the Raffles version, which uses a little less gin and a lot more pineapple juice than suggested in this formula. That recipe is too sweet for my taste.
• 2 ounces gin
• 1/2 ounce Heering cherry liqueur
• 1/4 ounce Cointreau
• 1/4 ounce Benedictine
• 2 ounces pineapple juice
• 1/2 ounce lime juice
• 1/4 ounce grenadine
• 1 dash Angostura bitters
• — Soda water (optional)
• — Cherry and pineapple slice, for garnish
Instructions: Combine all the ingredients except the soda and garnishes in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a tall ice-filled collins glass, and add a little soda if so desired. Garnish with a cherry and a slice of pineapple if you have the time.
Gary Regan is the author of “The Joy of Mixology” and other books. E-mail him at wine@sfchronicle.com.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/14/WI3GVE7FV.DTL

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