Harland: The Singapore Sling on sunstar.com

By ROBERT HARLAND

ALTHOUGH I’m a frequent visitor to Singapore, until now I’d never tasted a Singapore Sling. Given that this legendary cocktail – arguably the national drink of Singapore – celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, I decided it was high time to try one.

Fortunately, there’s a Raffles Hotel not far for my Makati home so I popped into the hotel’s Long Bar last week to find out more about this iconic cocktail.
It was created in 1915 at the original Raffles Hotel in colonial Singapore by Hainanese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon.
At the time it was considered bad form for women to consume alcohol in public. So Mr. Ngiam set about making a cocktail disguised as a fruit juice so the ladies could enjoy an alcoholic drink without fear of being branded unladylike. His concoction was the colorful Singapore Sling.
It quickly became a hit with the ladies and its fame soon spread to other countries. Today, the Singapore Sling is a standard classic on cocktail menus around the world.
Over the years, there have been a number of recipes for the Singapore Sling, but it’s believed one of several “original” recipes was mixing two measures of gin with one of cherry brandy and one of orange, pineapple, and lime juice.
According to senior bartender at Raffles Makati, Dennis Kantong, all Raffles Hotels and Resorts around the world, use the classic Singapore Sling recipe. It’s quite a list – Tanqueray gin, DOM Benedictine, Cherry Heering, Cointreau, Grenadine, Angastora bitters, lemon juice, pineapple juice, and garnished with a slice of pineapple.
There is certainly an art to making cocktails which Dennis, a 15-year veteran of Raffles Hotels, so aptly demonstrated. A series of quick pours, a steady hand, and intense concentration. Everything into a shaker with ice, a few firm shakes, and there was my very first Singapore Sling.
The verdict? Delicious, but potent!
Then it was the turn of fellow bartender Karlo Ramos to show off his expertise and demo the hotel’s rather special version of the Singapore Sling – the Makati Luxury Sling.
It’s an unusual blend of Tanqueray Ten, Grand Marnier, DOM Benedictine, and fresh lemon. It’s topped with local pineapple juice with Angostura and cherry blossom syrup. As a final touch of luxury, 24K gold flakes are sprinkled on the cocktail.
In no time at all Karlo had this unique concoction ready and “smiling” with just the gold flakes to add to complete the job. A rather extravagant drink, but delicious.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Singapore Sling, Raffles Hotels & Resorts have joined forces with leading bespoke gin maker, Sipsmith, to produce “Raffles 1915 Gin.”
Handcrafted at the Sipsmith Distillery in London for Raffles, the recipe is a balance of Malaysian botanicals – jasmine flowers, fresh pomelo peel, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaf, nutmeg and cardamom – distilled alongside some of the classic gin botanicals found in the award-winning Sipsmith London Dry Gin.
Served exclusively at Raffles Hotels & Resorts’ bars and lounges worldwide, the Raffles 1915 Gin will now be used in the creation of Singapore Slings, including special versions of the Sling that have been fashioned to be unique to each location.

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