The History of the Singapore Sling

This classic cocktail is certainly one worth finding out more about. A delicious combination of gin, Cointreau, DOM Benedictine, cherry liqueur, lime juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, and Angostura bitters, the drink has survived the true test of time, providing us with a tropical taste that takes a talented bartender to get just right. So, where did it come from?

Who Invented the Singapore Sling?

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to the origin of the Singapore Sling. Most agree that it was created in Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Many historians credit barman Ngiam Tang Boon with the drink around 1915. The rest of the story is up for debate.

One version tells of an army officer who went into the bar and was entranced by a beautiful woman sitting there. He asked the barman to make him a cocktail that would match the red of her lips.

Another, more likely tale, is that it wasn’t socially acceptable for women to drink alcohol in Singapore at that time. There would often be a menu of fruit juices that the ladies could choose from. In order to get around this standard, the Singapore Sling was invented. Since it looked like fruit juice, they could enjoy their beverage without fear of upsetting their peers.

The original recipe was a closely guarded secret, so nobody knows exactly what was in it. The barman’s grandson created the version that we know and love today, using notes and pictures that he found, but there are still more than 40 variations of the drink out there. The variation that we stand by is the one stated by the International Bartender’s Association.

It remains the Raffle’s Hotel’s most popular drink although it is now almost always poured as a pre-mix in order to cut down waiting times.

Variations on the Singapore Sling

There are so many versions of this cocktail, but most follow the same formula of gin, citrus, sweetener, and soda. Benedictine is also non-negotiable.

One simpler version removes the Cointreau, pineapple juice, grenadine, and bitters and replaces them with simple syrup and club soda. Some prefer to use Cherry Brandy rather than liqueur, while the simplest variations only include four ingredients: gin, cherry brandy, lemon juice, and soda.

Finally, you might prefer your Sling made with gin, Benedictine, Kirsch, lemon juice, and orange and aromatic bitters. While we have included exact quantities of ingredients on our recipe page, you can also play around with these, in order to get the taste you like.

Cocktails mentioned in this post

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Singapore Sling
Added About 12 years ago
8 ingredients  
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass with ice cubes. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry before serving. ...
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a ...
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This post was written by ....

Suzanna H
Hi, I am Suzanna. I would describe myself as a bit of a foodie with a side-interest in fancy cocktails. Anything sweet and alcoholic and I'm in! I am also an avid writer, proofreader and editor and work freelance through the website People per Hour.

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