How you doin’? It’s Friday… and almost time for Happy Hour! There are some memories I retreat to in the back of my mind when I find I can’t have a proper Happy Hour. Let me tell you a little story…
Wendel was his name and Wendelizing was his game. Wendel was the barkeep at a local dive bar across the street from USC. After some really rough days matriculating at the castle of higher learning a bunch of us would visit Wendel. Wendel would entice us to drink Singapore Slings—many of them. For the uninitiated you should know a Singapore Sling goes down really easily. Before long and after two or 3 of them it was time to go back to the dorm.
So, what is a Singapore Sling you ask? According to the historian for Raffles Hotel, the intent was to produce a cocktail that looked like fruit juice and had a rosy color that would appeal to women. It was, as the hotel notes, "a socially acceptable punch for the ladies."
The Singapore Sling is a classic gin-based cocktail that every cocktail connoisseur needs to taste. The story goes that it was developed by a guy by the name of Ngiam Tong Boon at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore sometime around 1915. It is a smooth, slow, and semi-sweet cocktail with a complex flavor that has remained a favorite for over 100 years—yes, people still drink them.
The original recipe may be lost to the ages and few people can agree on the “right” recipe. The disparities seem to have begun as early as the drink's first decade and they've only grown over the years.
This recipe is the one we served at Fanny’s Fish Market (a chain of seafood joints I owned up in the SFO Bay area) and is a more contemporary variation. Some versions include anything from pineapple to grenadine or liqueurs like Cointreau. A couple of today's top cocktail historians have also dug up older recipes which are worthy of discussion and a taste or two, or three. No matter how you end up taking your Singapore Sling, it is a fascinating cocktail that is well worth your time to explore. Take 3-minutes to “Wendelize” your friends with Fanny’s version of a Singapore Sling.
1-1/2 ounces gin
1-ounce lime juice
1/4-ounce simple syrup
2-ounces club soda
1/2-ounce cherry brandy (or kirsch or Cherry Heering)
Garnish: lemon slice and a stem-on maraschino cherry
ChefSecret: Did you notice the lack of pineapple juice? This was the "key" ingredient in Raffles' Cricket Club recipe, so that may have been how Ngiam improved on his original cocktail that was so popular throughout Singapore at the time.
If you want to try another popular Singapore Sling—call it No. 2—pineapple juice is used at a full 2-ounce pour, equaling that of Beefeater Gin. It also adds 1/2 ounce each Cherry Heering and Triple Sec with 1/4-ounce Benedictine and 3/4-ounce lime juice. It's topped with Angostura bitters and club soda. This was the recipe found on a Raffles coaster, though it lacked the measurements, so experienced bartenders had to wing it on their own.
 What is Benedictine liqueur? In 1510, the Benedictine monk Don Bernardo Vincelli created the recipe for this French liqueur, which calls for 27 plants and spices. The three main ingredients are Angelica, Hyssop and Lemon Balm. It has the flavor of sweet honey accented with holiday spices, stone fruits, and an herbal nuance.
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To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, be positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind. Thanks for reading!
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