The Original Singapore Sling Recipe, Sort of

by Pamela

singapore sling, singapore sling recipe, raffles singapore sling, classic cocktails
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Classic cocktails have seen a resurgence in popularity recently, but I haven’t really seen much on one of my favorites: the Singapore Sling. With its tropical fruity goodness, intensely red color and fresh fruit garnish I can’t think of a more refreshing cocktail recipe for these hot and humid summer months.

Like all good classic cocktails, there’s a story behind this one. This isn’t the usual back story though. The location of the drink’s creation and actual creator are seldomly disputed (Raffles Hotel in Singapore and Ngiam Tong Boon respectively). The mystery surrounding the Singapore Sling is: what is the original recipe? It seems that even Raffles doesn’t know.

The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel in Singapore

I was finishing up a two week excursion through Asia last week (more to follow on that) when my final destination was Singapore. I had two definite “must do’s” while I was there. The first was to take a cooking class and the second was to visit the Long Bar, at Raffles Hotel, to imbibe in a Singapore Sling (or two) at the place where it all started.

While there are people who claim the first Raffles Singapore Sling came into existence in 1913 or 1915, the hotel itself claims that it was first served in 1910. I say, let’s not split hairs here since we’re talking less than a decade of difference. But somewhere in the 1930’s, the original recipe was somehow lost. Not much is known about how or why the original Singapore Sling recipe vanished, but I am happy to report that through some detective work and word of mouth, a delicious Singapore Sling recipe does exist.

Raffles Singapore Sling Recipe

Walking into the iconic Long Bar is like a trip back to Singapore’s colonial period. The bar, the tables, the chairs, the gigantic spiral staircase are all made from dark and heavy wood. The green shades of the lights overhead and brass touches make you feel comfortable and not like you’ve stepped into some Matrix-esque type bar.  Of course, the slowly waving paddle fans overhead and large plantation shutters only make the scene that much more romantically colonial.

Upstairs at The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel

This place is also pretty big (like 2 floors big with an outside veranda giving you a nice overhead view of the area). That being said, it’s not unusual to find the place packed with people looking to get their “Sling” on and experience some of this hotel’s glorious past. When you get to your table, you’ll find it already set with a large wooden box filled with fresh peanuts in their shells. Feel free to nibble away and toss the shells on the floor (try doing this at home or at some other bar).

The outside veranda at Raffles Hotel in Singapore

So mix yourself up a tall cool Singapore Sling, and picture yourself reclining in a cane back chair with paddle fans slowly waving a nice cooling breeze over your head and enjoy your weekend.

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3 comments

yyc July 29, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I’m from Singapore and I never understand what’s the big deal w the Singapore Sling at Long Bar. I am more impressed with the Singapore Slingtini at Morton’s Bar. How I wish that would be our national cocktail. :) Do try if you get the chance.

Pamela July 30, 2012 at 9:21 am

If I get a chance to get back to Singapore (and I really hope that I do) I will definitely give the Slingtini a try. Thanks for the tip.

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