The story behind a legendary cocktail
In the heart of Singapore’s business and civic district, you will find a striking colonial building that stands proudly amongst its contemporary surroundings. This building is the Raffles Singapore – the flagship hotel of this esteemed global brand and an institution of the country – and is where the Raffles Singapore Sling originates.
Open since 1887, the hotel was awarded National Monument status by the government a century after opening and has welcomed such star guests as Ernest Hemingway, Karl Lagerfeld, Alfred Hitchcock and Christian Louboutin. Even the King of Pop – the late Michael Jackson – stayed here. And then, of course, we have its ultimate claim to fame: the Raffles Singapore is the location where the iconic Singapore Sling cocktail was created back in 1915. In honour of the cocktail’s Centennial Anniversary, we took a look back at the history of the classic Raffles Singapore Sling and a look forward to all the exciting events taking place in tribute to the infamous drink.
The birth of a legend
It was in the Raffles’ elegant Long Bar that bartender Ngiam Tong Boon created the Raffles Singapore Sling. Rumours suggest that it was invented for his friend who wanted a customised drink that embodied the beauty of the woman he coveted. Sadly, these rumours remain unfounded although the mystique surrounding the cocktail still remains. The Long Bar was the trendiest place to drink in colonial Singapore at the turn of the century but at that time, it was still unacceptable for women to drink in public. Therefore, the inventive bartender came up with a new drink – the Raffles Singapore Sling. Using clear alcohol, Cointreau and cherry liqueur to create its now-infamous pink hue, this meant that female punters seemed as if they were drinking fruit juice. The gin-based cocktail also includes Benedictine and Sarawak pineapple juice to create the foamy top that gives its signature sweet and fruity flavour. Since its inception, the Raffles Singapore Sling (or Gin Sling as it was originally known) has gone on to attain cult status around the globe appearing on the menu of all the trendiest bars and featuring across popular culture, earning mentions in Hollywood films including Cocktail, Pirates of the Caribbean and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
You cannot get a much more original Singaporean experience than sitting at the Long Bar in the Raffles and drinking the cocktail in the exact same place that it was invented. With a chilled-out atmosphere and exotic décor inspired by Malayan plantations of the 1920s, this is a restful place to enjoy such an iconic experience. You’ll also be joining a long line of famous names that have enjoyed a cocktail in this location, including Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham.
In honour of the cocktail’s milestone anniversary, the Raffles will be holding a range of events. At the Singapore Sling Masterclass, visitors can learn all about the secrets behind the legendary cocktail from the hotel’s bartenders and mix up their own concoction. All participants will receive a Raffles Singapore Sling glass with the commemorative 100th-anniversary logo as a classic memento of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Don’t worry about the drinks going to your head, either – the session will be accompanied by fresh and succulent pieces of satay –grilled meat served on a wooden skewer that offer a lovely sample of the local flavour.
Those who prefer something sweeter should indulge in the SlingaPore Dessert – a delicious pink cake made up of pineapple mousse, marmalade and cherry jelly centre with a lime sponge. The dessert is available to enjoy in two of the hotel’s classic eateries – choose the elegant Ah Teng’s Bakery for a more laidback experience where you can linger over the cake with a cup of tea or coffee. Alternatively, the formal dining room of the Raffles Grill are offering the SlingaPore as part of an elegant evening meal. At the Grill, guests can sample the dessert as part of the 1950s’ Elizabethan Grill Tribute Tasting Menu, which has been specially created to celebrate the Republic of Singapore’s 50th birthday.
For those who love a good bit of memorabilia, the Raffles Gift Shop will be piled high with Singapore Sling merchandise, including flavoured chocolates, marmalade and tea. For a really extravagant celebration, the hotel is also offering the fantastic Raffles Singapore Sling 100th Anniversary Suite Package. The package includes one night’s accommodation in a luxurious Courtyard suite and breakfast for two at the Tiffin Room, where you can enjoy a range of dishes from the Asian or continental breakfast menu. Guests will also have a private Singapore Sling bartending session at the Long Bar and receive a Raffles Singapore Sling hamper stuffed full of special memorabilia from the Raffles Gift Shop. And that’s not all! Those who buy the package will also enjoy 24-hour butler service, a tour by the hotel’s Resident Historian (subject to availability) and S$500 worth of Raffles Hotel Arcade shopping discount vouchers.
Within the inspiring surrounds of this magnificent building, all that’s left to do is choose how you would like to celebrate this landmark occasion for the legendary Raffles Singapore Sling. Cheers!