“Happy Centenarian our grand Singapore Sling!”
Ever wondered the origins of Singapore Sling? Time to brush up a bit of national history as every Singaporean should know this famous drink and share it proudly to friends. Undisputedly, the Singapore Sling is definitely Singapore’s most famous cocktail in Singapore and abroad!
The Singapore Sling was invented some hundred years ago (some say as early as 1910, but we gentlemen never pressed on a lady’s age issue), but only officially in 1915 by Mr Ngiam Tong Boon, the bartender (seated in photo above) at our iconic Long Bar in Raffles Hotel Singapore.
In colonial Singapore then, it was common to see the gentlemen nursing glasses of Gin and Whisky. Unfortunately, the etiquette at that time dictated that ladies could not consume alcohol in public. Mr Ngiam intuitively recognised the need for a socially acceptable way for ladies to enjoy alcoholic beverages, and thus invented the Singapore Sling – a pretty pink cocktail with alcohol.
Needless to say, Mr Ngiam became very popular among the ladies for coming up with the Singapore Sling (and the Long Bar team, for the sudden surge of ladies in the house ;). It is all thanks to him that we are still enjoying this classy and sophisticated cocktail a 100 years later.
We were cordially invited to the Singapore Sling 100th Anniversary Media Event to try our hand at the Singapore Sling Masterclass. Without giving too much away, here are glimpses of what to expect.
We were thrilled to be trained by Long Bar’s professional bartenders. Just look at the elaborated setup above!
An impressive set of cocktail making tools were provided for each participants; I loved them so much so that I went back and bought a set for myself as well!
The Long Bar’s trainer walked us through the step-by-step instructions, with staff moving around to ensure that everyone was able to follow. We also got plenty of tips and tricks to help us make the perfect, world-renowned Singapore Sling.
That’s us trying to follow the instructions with our new friends from other media outlets. If you never had any bar experience and are worried that you may fumble with the kit, rest assured. The very nice and professional Long Bar crew helped us out to ensure that everyone was on the right track.
A lot of effort goes into making the Singapore Sling, so it is no easy feat to produce this classy cocktail.
We will not reveal too much of what you will be taught, so go on and sign up for a new experience and some cocktail making fun! That’s me putting the finishing touches to the drink.
Our first, real, attempt at handcrafting the Singapore Sling (double shot of Gin if you want a kick)! It has been such an enjoyable experience to get hands-on on a drink we thought we knew enough about, but actually did not.
You appreciate the Singapore Sling a whole lot more once you have tried your hand at making it and when you have understood its historical significance (Yes, we get to drink our own creations too!).
The Raffles Hotel Singapore’s resident historian, Mr Leslie Danker, from whom we had the privilege to hear about his encounters with world-figures such as Queen Elizabeth II, Michael Jackson, Jackie Chan, as well as the histories of Long Bar, the Singapore Sling and Raffles Hotel itself.
We were later treated by the Raffles Singapore Marketing team with a wonderful spread of local delights.
As I was in Tokyo recently, I bought 2 bottles of premade Singapore Sling from Changi Airport as gifts for my Japanese colleagues and friends. Both my recipients were very happy to receive them.
One of them tasted the Singapore Sling for the first time and is now motivated to visit Singapore to try the real thing at Raffles Singapore. I told them that the Queen in the UK has Pimm’s in the summer, but in Singapore, we have the Singapore Sling!
Here is my personal tip – next time you visit overseas friends, do try to pick up a bottle Singapore Sling (albeit hard to find on the shelves, I had to ask the DFS staff to help me find them. Perhaps Raffles Singapore Marketing can help to give Singapore Sling a prominent display space as our nation’s favourite cocktail especially during SG50).
There are 3 preparation methods at the back label;
Method (1) Drink neat on the rocks (warning, it may taste a little like cough syrup if you drink it neat without ice),
Method (2) Half part pineapple juice with half part premixed Singapore Sling.
Method (3) 1/3 Singapore Sling premix, Pineapple juice and Tonic/Soda water. I strongly suggest using fresh pineapple juice with a dash of lime juice and an additional 30 ml pack (or two) of Gin. My Japanese colleagues especially loved the Tonic/Soda version, as it is best for the balmy Japanese summer weather and resembles their refreshing ‘high ball’ drinking style.
The hour-long Singapore Sling Masterclass is available from June to December 2015 and priced at $88++ per person, with minimum of 10 persons.
In celebration of Singapore’s 50th birthday (SG50), there are a myriad of activities planned by the Raffles Singapore Marketing team – the Singapore Sling 100th Anniversary Suite Package (from $1380++), Elizabethan Grill Tribute Tasting menu ($250++) and SlingaPore – a Singapore Sling cake from Ah Teng’s Bakery.
Last but not least, we would like to thank the Marketing team at Raffles Singapore and Ate Communications for having us. Since Singapore is celebrating SG50, continue to hashtag #SgSling100 and make merry with our favourite National cocktail! For those who have only had the Singapore Sling on SIA planes, I encourage you to head down to Long Bar to try the real thing (it is so much better)!