The Singapore Sling must die. Here's why
The cocktail most synonymous with Singapore is, of course, the Singapore Sling. But let’s face it, anyone who’s tasted the sweet, frothy, pink concoction has been disappointed.
Supposedly invented in the early 1900s by Raffles Hotel bartender Ngiam Tong Boon as a drink for women, this anachronism left over from colonial times plays into a long-gone era of steamer trunks and cruise ships, a travel fantasy fueled by exotic dispatches from boozy Brits who clearly were missing the point.
The drink is too sweet, too weak, has too many ingredients and, at most places, is way too expensive.
The Singapore Sling has been viral, we’ll give it that. Watering holes throughout Singapore now boast their own take on this ‘classic’ cocktail. Singapore Airlines serves complimentary Slings to all its passengers.
Ingredients include gin, cherry Heering, Dom Benedictine, and fresh pineapple juice from Sarawak. The exact chemistry remains a mystery. As Raffles readily admits, the original recipe has been lost.
Like San Francisco’s Irish coffee or the daiquiri in Havana, however, Singapore’s ‘authentic’ cocktail has little to do with one’s enjoyment of the local culture. It’s just something you’re supposed to do while you’re here.
It’s time somebody said it: Singapore needs a new signature beverage.
A pair of fresh ideas
Here are two suggestions, both with gin as the active ingredient, to keep that historic heritage alive. We’ve gotten rid of the faux-Polynesian pineapple, and trimmed the list of ingredients, both to lower the price and also to retain the notion that it’s a cocktail you’re drinking, not a liquefied children’s candy.
A Pimm's No. 1 Cup offers plenty of gin and subtle notes of spice and citrus. It can be mixed into cocktails, with lemonade or various fruits, or simply served over ice. No muss, no fuss.
Another refreshing addition to Singapore’s legacy could be the venerable gin and tonic, garnished with a slice of citrus and served over ice. Originally introduced to British soldiers in India to help prevent malaria, the G&T has already proven itself as a favorite in warm, humid climates. It’s ridiculously easy to make. And you can really load up on the gin without a noticeable difference in taste.
But if you absolutely, positively must order a Singapore Sling, try these local variations instead. The OverEasy on Fullerton Road makes all its Slings from scratch, and adds a splash of Angostura bitters on top for a zesty first sip. On Raffles Avenue atop the waterfront Esplanade arts center, Orgo’s house mixologist Tomoyuki Kitazoe blends fresh pineapples, limes and pomegranates into his version of a Sling, for a fruit-filled kick to enjoy while gazing out over the city skyline.
Got a better idea for a new national bev? Think the Singapore Sling still matters? Drop a comment below.