Singapore Sling Cocktail: Discover the Origins and Modern Twists

Singapore Sling Cocktail: Discover the Origins and Modern Twists

The Singapore Sling originated at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore in 1915. Bartender Ngiam Tong Boon created this cocktail to offer a refreshing drink suitable for the tropical climate. Positioning it as a ladies’ drink, Ngiam made it pink to cater to women’s preferences. The original recipe included gin, cherry brandy, Benedictine, lime juice, Cointreau, pineapple juice, grenadine, and a dash of bitters.

Evolution of the Recipe

The Singapore Sling’s recipe has evolved over the decades. Post-World War II, changes in ingredient availability and bartenders’ creativity led to variations. Modern versions often simplify the ingredients. Popular adaptations now include gin, pineapple juice, lime juice, and grenadine. Each rendition strives to capture the cocktail’s original essence while appealing to contemporary tastes.

Key Ingredients of the Singapore Sling

Gin: The Base Spirit

Gin serves as the foundational spirit in the Singapore Sling, contributing to its complex character. The spirit’s botanical notes blend seamlessly with the cocktail’s tropical essence. High-quality gin, like London Dry or Old Tom, works best for this recipe. Quality is crucial as the gin’s nuances enhance the drink’s overall profile.

Cherry Heering: The Distinctive Cherry Flavor

Cherry Heering provides the distinctive cherry flavor essential to the Singapore Sling. Unlike regular cherry brandy, Cherry Heering offers a rich, deep flavor with a hint of almond. This liqueur imparts a beautiful red hue and a sweet yet tart taste, harmonizing with the other ingredients. Originating from Denmark, Cherry Heering has become a staple in this iconic cocktail.

Dom Benedictine and Cointreau

Dom Benedictine and Cointreau introduce layers of complexity and balance to the Singapore Sling. Dom Benedictine, a herbal liqueur, brings in flavors of honey, spices, and citrus. Its unique profile adds depth, enhancing the drink’s herbal and sweet notes. Cointreau, an orange-flavored triple sec, provides a burst of zesty brightness, cutting through the sweetness. The combination of these liqueurs ensures a well-rounded, intricate taste that makes the Singapore Sling a timeless classic.

Step-by-Step Recipe

Preparation Techniques

Start by gathering the necessary ingredients: 1.5 oz gin, 0.5 oz cherry brandy, 0.25 oz Cointreau, 0.25 oz Benedictine, 4 oz pineapple juice, 0.5 oz lime juice, 0.33 oz grenadine, and a dash of Angostura bitters. Use fresh lime juice for a sharper citrus note, and ensure the pineapple juice is unsweetened to balance the cocktail’s flavor.

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the gin, cherry brandy, Cointreau, Benedictine, pineapple juice, lime juice, and grenadine. Shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds to combine the ingredients and chill the mixture.

Strain the cocktail into a tall, chilled glass such as a hurricane or highball glass. This step ensures a smooth texture by removing ice shards.

Garnishing Tips

Enhance the visual appeal and flavor by using appropriate garnishes. Add a fresh pineapple slice and a maraschino cherry to the rim of the glass. The pineapple slice adds a tropical feel, while the cherry complements the cocktail’s cherry brandy component.

Consider adding a mint sprig as an optional garnish for an aromatic touch. The mint’s vibrant green contrasts beautifully with the pinkish drink, making it more visually inviting.

Variations and Modern Twists

Contemporary Mixologist Interpretations

Modern mixologists innovate with the Singapore Sling, substituting or adding ingredients to offer unique flavors. Some bartenders, for instance, use mezcal instead of gin to impart a smoky character. Others blend in fresh herbs like basil or rosemary, elevating the cocktail’s aromatic profile. Creative presentations, such as serving the drink in a hollowed-out pineapple, enhance its visual impact. You might also encounter infusions of exotic spices or fruits, like passion fruit or star anise, which bring added depth to the classic Singapore Sling.

Non-Alcoholic Versions

Non-alcoholic versions of the Singapore Sling retain its signature taste while making it accessible to everyone. Bartenders often use a mix of fresh pineapple and lime juice with grenadine for the base. To replicate the botanical notes without alcohol, they incorporate a combination of juniper berry syrup and aromatic bitters. Sparkling water adds a refreshing fizz, and garnishes like pineapple slices or maraschino cherries complete the presentation, ensuring the drink remains visually appealing and flavorful even without spirits.

Best Places to Enjoy a Singapore Sling

Iconic Bars in Singapore

Raffles Hotel is the birthplace of the Singapore Sling and remains the most iconic place to enjoy this cocktail. Crafted originally in 1915, it continues to be served with exceptional precision.

The Long Bar captures the colonial charm with its unique ambiance. Located within Raffles Hotel, it’s the first choice for experiencing the authentic drink.

Post Bar at The Fullerton Hotel offers a modern twist to the classic cocktail. It combines historic elements with contemporary vibes, enhancing your experience.

Manhattan Bar has a rich, glamorous setting. Though not as historic, it presents a refined version of the Singapore Sling with high-quality ingredients.

Around the World

Singapore Slings grace numerous bars globally. In New York, PDT (Please Don’t Tell) serves a notable version with a secretive twist.

The Savoy Hotel in London presents a European adaptation of the cocktail. Their American Bar maintains high standards with top-tier ingredients.

Zuma in Tokyo provides an innovative take. Combining classic and seasonal Japanese elements, it crafts a unique rendition.

In Sydney, The Baxter Inn incorporates local botanicals to offer a distinct flavor, making it an Australian favorite.

Each of these places, steeped in their own culture, reinterprets the Singapore Sling to enhance your drinking experience.


Exploring the Singapore Sling cocktail offers a fascinating journey through history and innovation. Whether you’re savoring a classic recipe or a modern twist, this iconic drink never fails to impress. High-quality ingredients and creative variations ensure there’s a Singapore Sling for every palate.

Next time you’re at a top-notch bar, consider trying their version of this timeless cocktail. From the Raffles Hotel in Singapore to The Savoy in London, each venue offers a unique take that enriches the experience. Cheers to enjoying a piece of cocktail history!

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