The History of the Singapore Sling

Jump to

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

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.

Pardon the interruption

Did you know that you can become a member for free, taking your cocktail making skills up to level 11. You can save your My Bar ingredients, make tasting notes, have personalised Tried and Want to try lists and more.

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.

More to explore

The History of the Rob Roy

An irresistible combination of vermouth, Scotch whiskey and bitters, this smooth, tasty cocktail is...

The Science of Mixology: How to Perfect Your Home Bar Game with Expert Techniques

Are you tired of serving mediocre cocktails at your home gatherings? Want to take your mixology skil...

Pairing Cocktails with Food

It is becoming a popular dining-out trend to pair cocktails with your meal, rather than the traditio...

Bartender's top tip

Preparation is key. Have all your ingredients ready before your start mixing, it'll keep the flavours fresh and your cocktails tasting even better.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get tips straight into your inbox.