Of course, no visit to Singapore is complete without a visit to the Raffles Hotel and a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar… so we had to just do this!
The Singapore Sling is more than just the country’s national drink – it is well-known around the world. The drink was first created by a Hainanese-Chinese bartender at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, Ngiam Tong Boon, supposedly in 1915.
The Long Bar is on the second floor of the Raffles Hotel and it is unpretentious with wicker chairs, peanut shells littering the floor, and overhead fans shaped like leaves. Though it is certainly been designed to look like it, this is not the colonial bar where Rudyard Kipling put away gin and tonics while penning stories about the jungles of Malaya. The original Long Bar was located in the hotel lobby and, beyond the fact that it was long, not much is known about its appearance.
In today’s Long Bar the counters and tables were set with trays of roasted peanuts – almost everyone was munching them and discarding the shells on the floor. The bartender said they clean the floor only at the end of the night.
We’ve tried the Original Singapore Sling and a Summer version (that’s the glass to the left). The bartenders make Slings almost every second – sometimes Sling glasses were lined up neatly 50 at a time.
Here are the Singapore Sling proportions officially published by the hotel, but of course, this on its own won’t you allow to recreate the same drink:
- 30 ml Gin
- 15 ml Cherry Heering
- 7.5 ml Dom Benedictine
- 7.5 ml Cointreau
- 120 ml Sarawak Pineapple juice
- 15 ml lime juice
- 10 ml Grenadine
- A dash of Angostura bitters
- Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry
The current Raffles Hotel recipe is a heavily modified version of the original, most likely changed sometime in the 1970s by Ngiam Tong Boon’s nephew. Today, many of the Singapore Slings served at Raffles Hotel have been pre-mixed and are made using an automatic dispenser that combines alcohol and pineapple juice to pre-set volumes. They are then blended instead of shaken to create a foamy top as well as to save time because of the large number of orders. However, it is still possible to request a shaken version from bartenders.
Despite all the relaxing atmosphere the Long Bar is for tourists. There are no locals and the drinks are expensive. The original Singapore Sling is priced at 26 Singapore Dollars, not including service charge or tax – so it’s a one-off experience we just had to do, but I doubt we’ll be back for another one.