What do the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas have in common? On the surface, it would appear not much. Closer examination may reveal the answer to your next drink order or cocktail party punch; the Singapore Sling or the Chinatown Sling.
While the Raffles Hotel is named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern day Singapore, in the world of bartending the Raffles Hotel is more widely known as the home of the Singapore Sling. It was in the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel where Ngiam Tong Boon is said to have invented the Singapore Sling sometime between 1910 and 1915. The recipe for this drink was such a secret that it was kept locked away in a safe along with Ngiam’s other recipe books. Somewhere along the way, however, the original recipe to the Singapore Sling was lost.
During the 1970’s management began restoring the Raffles Hotel to its original luster. One of the items they wanted to bring back to the Long Bar was the Singapore Sling, since it was so popular in the earlier days of the Raffles Hotel. It is presumed during this rebuilding time one of Ngiam’s nephews was contacted and a close version of the original recipe was concocted. Over time this recipe has been modified rather drastically from the original, but with much broader appeal. The modernized version of the Singapore Sling is still served at the original Raffles Hotel and Long Bar. The drink is also complimentary on all Singapore Airlines flights to all passengers. What a deal!
What does the Singapore Sling have to do with the MGM Grand in Las Vegas? There is no Long Bar at the MGM Grand, but there is Nob Hill. Nob Hill is a San Francisco styled eatery with fresh produce and poultry flown in daily from San Francisco to capture the authenticity of the Bay Area. While the food is no doubt fabulous with its world class chef, Michael Mina, my focus is on the bar area with one drink in particular they have created. It is the Chinatown Sling based on the Singapore Sling from the Raffles Hotel. The Chinatown drink is a pitcher version of the Singapore Sling making it a perfect rendition for your next cocktail party. What makes this version of the Singapore Sling special is it will take the work out of the individualized cocktail while leaving the zing in the Sling.
The Singapore Sling is a time consuming drink to put together with its many ingredients. The individual cocktail has nine ingredients in dashes and quarter measures combined in a cocktail shaker and then strained into a Collins glass with two garnishes. The Singapore Sling has an orange slice and cherry garnish; both rather nice and fitting for this drink. All the work and time that goes into this cocktail are not in vain. It makes a tasty, complex drink with an equally nice pink hue. It is a classic listed among the International Bartenders Association fifty greatest cocktails. The time involved in putting an individual Singapore Sling together and the flavor make it ideal for ordering at a cocktail lounge. Someone else does the work. You enjoy your drink and companion.
The Chinatown Sling has an amazing color to it as well, but for added drama the Cherry Heering is left out of the pitcher combination until the very end and added as a topper to the individual drink instead. This allows the Cherry Heering to settle within the liquid instead of integrate into the drink giving the Chinatown Sling a visual layered effect. Add to that the equally complex flavor your guests will experience when they finally taste it and this makes for an excellent party drink. What works in your favor here is the Chinatown Sling is a pitcher drink made ahead of time with six ingredients rather than nine. Instead of working making drinks for your guests, you will be sipping a refreshing Chinatown Sling with them. Seeing and tasting is believing. As for the garnish, for your cocktail party, flee from the routine just as Nob Hill in Las Vegas veers from the run of the mill. The Chinatown Sling garnish should be a tropical pineapple spear and a cherry. There is no need to peel the pineapple. Leaving the pineapple with the skin on and then cut in long spears gives the Chinatown Sling a spectacular tropical finish. The cherry gives an extra dollop of color to an already fabulous drink for you and your guest’s sipping pleasure.
1-1/2 ounce Gin
1/2 ounce Heering Cherry
1/4 ounce Cointreau
1/4 ounce Benedictine
Dash of Angostura Bitters
2 Dashes Grenadine
1/2 ounce Fresh Lime Juice
Club Soda (optional)
Garnish with Orange Slice and Cherry
Combine all ingredients except club soda and garnishes in a cocktail shaker filled 1/3 full with ice. Shake to blend. Strain into a Collins glass filled 1/2 to 2/3 full with ice. Top off with club soda. Garnish with the orange slice curved into a half moon on a cocktail pick and a cherry.
16 ounces Pineapple Juice
10 ounces Rangpur Gin
4 ounces Cointreau
4 ounces Benedictine
1 Scant Teaspoon Angostura Bitters
2 ounces Heering Cherry
Garnish with Pineapple Spears and Maraschino Cherries
Combine all ingredients except Cherry Heering and garnishes in a pitcher. Refrigerate until well chilled; approximately two hours. Stir. Fill old fashioned glasses with ice. Fill with Chinatown Sling mixture within half inch of top. Top each glass with 1/4 ounce of cherry liqueur. Garnish with pineapple spear and cherry.
Cheri Loughlin is a leading cocktail and photography resource for beverage companies, event planners, businesses and individuals. High resolution cocktail and beverage stock photography images are available in downloadable digital format in the newly redesigned Stock Photography Gallery at www.cheriloughlin.com.
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Media Release: The Singapore Sling Rediscovers Its Roots
June 1, 2007 – Raffles Hotel is delighted to establish Heering Cherry Liqueur as one of the key ingredients in the Singapore Sling, the legendary hot pink cocktail with a reputation of iconic proportions.
Raffles Hotel and Peter F Heering AB, which produces the Cherry Liqueur, have rich histories that started in the 1800s which became forever intertwined when Raffles Hotel’s Hainanese-Chinese bartender, Mr Ngiam Tong Boon, created the world-famous Singapore Sling, based on Peter Heering’s cherry brandy, in 1915. This gives the Singapore Sling its distinctive pink colour.
A vintage 1888 bottle of the liqueur and a framed antique cork poster of the bottle were presented to the hotel by Mr Jörgen Tilander, owner of The Peter F Heering Company. These two artefacts will be displayed in the hotel’s museum, where visitors may also view the safe in which Mr Ngiam locked away his precious recipe books, as well as the Sling recipe hurriedly jotted down on a bar-chit in 1936 by a visitor to the hotel who asked the waiter for it.
“We are honoured to be presented with a world-renowned brand that has had more than 180 years of producing the world’s finest cherry brandy. Shared characteristics link the two timeless brands and form the platform for a relationship that will undoubtedly provide patrons with a truly memorable experience,” says Mr Robert Logan, General Manager of Raffles Hotel.
The classic Danish liqueur has been produced since 1818 and had by the 1850’s, already become an export success being shipped all over the world. The liqueur is made of premium small dark Stevens cherry which thrives on the long ripening period of the cool Nordic climate. The cherries are crushed together with stones, which give Heering Cherry Liqueur its characteristic hint of almond. The pulp is then steeped in spirit and a secret combination of spices that has been in the Heering family since 1818 is added before it is poured into great oak casks to mature a minimum of three years.
Recipe of Singapore Sling – Created at the Legendary Raffles Hotel
30 ml Gin
15 ml Heering Cherry Liqueur
120 ml Pineapple Juice
15 ml Lime Juice
7.5 ml Cointreau
7.5 ml Dom Benedictine
10 ml Grenadine
A Dash of Angostura Bitters
Garnish with a slice of Pineapple and Cherry
Raffles Hotel Museum was opened on 1 November 1991, the culmination of more than two years of research and tireless sourcing of memorabilia, prior to the Hotel’s restoration. The history of the hotel, the other Grand Hotels of Asia and all the romance of travel in a bygone era, are brought to life in the Museum. The success of the Museum is attributed to the donors in the Worldwide Heritage Search.