When you have a great rum, you have a lot…
Whether you’ve had one or not, you will instantly recognize the name of the Singapore Sling when you see it on a drink menu. The drink was originally conceived in the mid 1910s at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. As is the case with most cocktails that have been around (and have been around the world) for decades, there are many variations out there. We’ve even heard it said that the original recipe was forgotten completely and the recipe – or the version of it that is served at the Long Bar today – is reconstructed from notes found on the back of a bar napkin, as well as the recollections of both staff and patrons of the bar.
A sling is a cocktail made with spirits (not just gin), sugar, water and some citrus, probably lemon. The “original” recipe was probably a simple variation on a basic sling involving some quantity of cherry brandy or kirsch – ingredients that appear in just about every Singapore sling variation out there – but that is not what you are going to get if you order one today. These days, most recipes include Benedictine, citrus juices and bitters, while others add in pineapple and/or orange juice, as well as Cointreau or triple sec to sweeten things up. There are a lot of tasty recipes out there, but before you take on the drinks with long ingredient lists, why not start with one that is relatively simple.
This recipe from Imbibe is a pared down version of a Singapore Sling that is probably close to the original. It is made with gin, Cherry Herring or cherry brandy, Benedictine, lime juice and bitters. It is a delicious drink with a nice cherry sweetness and a bit of complexity from the herbacious, citrusy Benedictine. We like the recipe as-written, but prefer to use a blend of both lemon and lime juice in ours, which leads to a very balanced citrus finish and ensures that the tart lime doesn’t dominate the other ingredients.
A sling is typically topped off with soda water and this recipe is no exception. Depending on the glassware you use, you might find that you don’t quite have the room for a full two ounces of soda water before serving (this is particularly true with some of our older, vintage collins glasses). You can solve the problem by dividing your sling into smaller glasses, sipping some before adding the soda, or by reducing the soda to a splash. All the options are good, but we’ll usually opt to reduce the soda by a splash when we need to.
1 oz London dry gin (no exceptions)
1 oz Cherry Herring or cherry brandy
1 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
1-2 oz soda water
Combine all ingredients, except for the soda water, in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake until very cold, then strain into a tall glass filled with ice cubes. Top with 1-2 oz of soda water and serve.