Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Singapore Slinging at The Long Bar, Raffles Hotel (Singapore)

The Singapore Sling is now more than just the country's national drink. Most of the Singapore Slings served around town are made with mixers, and sometimes even from dispensers. Souvenir shops sell Singapore Sling mixers and even Singapore Sling flavored chocolates. The drink was first created by a Hainanese-Chinese bartender at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, Ngiam Tong Boon - supposedly in 1915. A famous cocktail by a Chinese bartender! I never had the chance to come here when I visited Singapore with my family, so since I'm spending half the day solo, I decided that I'm due for it.


The historic Raffles Hotel is a beautiful space, a respite from the busy, noisy streets of Singapore.

You can take the elevator, escalator, or stairs up to the second floor, where the Long Bar is now located. The bar was busy at 4 in the afternoon, but even though the tables were full, the fans slowly waving on the ceilings gave it a relaxing atmosphere.

The counters and tables were set with trays of roasted peanuts. I was about to take a seat at the bar counter when I suddenly heard a crunching sound under my shoes. They were from peanut shells that are scattered all over the floor. Apparently it is common - perhaps even a tradition - to throw the shells on the floor. The bartender said they clean the floor only at the end of the night.
Peanut shells cover the bar floor
Despite all the relaxing atmosphere and high end shops, the hotel and the bar for their historic significance is a tourist trap destination. Which meant high volume and high prices. The original Singapore Sling is priced at S$26 which at one time would be cheap for Americans, but with the weak US dollar currently, it was damn expensive. I had read that even here, the home of the original drink, most of the Singapore Slings they serve are made from pre-mixes (even if they're the hotel's own mix) and blended with a Vitamix, BUT you can order it shaken and they will make a real one for you. That's exactly what I did and I watched as the bartender poured the ingredients from each bottle and shake it.


No one knows what the real recipe is, but this is the proportions officially published by the hotel:
30 ml gin (yes, they're in ml. This is Singapore)
15 ml Cherry Heering
7.5 ml Dom Benedictine
7.5 ml Cointreau
120 ml Sarawak Pineapple juice
15 ml lime juice
10 ml Grenadine
a dash of Angostura bitters
Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry

Well, they'll do this when they're not too busy the bartender said. There was only one person behind the bar at 4 pm; probably an off hour. During short time I sat there, he blended and served up around 40-50 glasses. I asked him how many Slings they serve in a day: about a thousand glasses. The Sling glasses were lined up neatly 50 at a time. The pineapple and cherry garnishes were prepped beforehand and laid out on trays.

Still, you shouldn't go to the Raffles Hotel and pay S$26 for a pre-mixed, blended Singapore Sling, so just ask for it shaken.



How I miss the Singapore Sling!

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