Classic Gin Sling Recipe (With Variations)

Classic Gin Sling Recipe (With Variations)

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail

It is time to enjoy a mixed drink that is truly old-school! The gin sling is such a classic cocktail that it was an iconic American drink before anyone ever dreamed up the word cocktail (it was mentioned in writing as early as 1785).

The original slings would be made with gin, brandy, whiskey, or rum. It was the way to mix up a drink almost decades before ​famous bartenders like Jerry Thomas stepped behind the bar in the late 1800s. Today, the best-known version of the gin sling is far more complex.

In all honesty, this gin sling recipe is probably going to appeal most to modern drinkers. As you will see, it is a completely different drink than the traditional gin sling. This version is tall and refreshing with a perfect balance of sweet, sour, bitter, and herbal. It is a superb cocktail and a fantastic break from easy gin and soda drinks like the gin rickey.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Gin Sling Recipe (With Variations) ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the gin, sweet vermouth, simple syrup, and bitters.

    gin, sweet vermouth, simple syrup, and bitters next to a cocktail shaker with ice

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Shake well.

    cocktail shaker

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Strain into a collins glass filled with fresh ice.

    gin, sweet vermouth, simple syrup, and bitters in a glass with ice

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Top with soda, garnish with a lemon twist, serve, and enjoy.

    Classic Gin Sling Recipe (With Variations), garnished with a lemon twist

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Variation

You can also enjoy the gin sling the way early Americans did. As you can see, it is a simple drink recipe and, is little more than diluting and sweetening a shot of gin. That said, for all its simplicity, it is a great drink.

In his book, "Imbibe!," David Wondrich devotes four pages to the discussion of slings. It is a fascinating read for any cocktail history geek and many of the tips in this recipe are pulled from it.

Most interesting is Wondrich's note that other than the nutmeg, even Jerry Thomas had a hard time distinguishing the toddy from the sling. Whatever you do, don't forget the nutmeg! It is what makes this gin sling great.

  • To make a classic gin sling, dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in an old-fashioned glass with 1/2 ounce water. Add 2 ounces gin and a few ice cubes. Stir well and finish with freshly grated nutmeg.
  • As with the modern gin sling, replace the gin to create a whiskey sling, rum sling, or brandy sling.
  • If you want to make a "hot gin sling," simply use hot water instead of cold.

How Strong Is a Gin Sling?

The modern gin sling is no stronger or lighter than the average gin highball (e.g., gin and tonic). It should have an alcohol content around 10 percent ABV (20 proof). The classic version is a different story, weighing in around 26 percent ABV (52 proof), nearly as strong as the gin martini.