Classic Singapore Sling Cocktail

Singapore Sling Cocktail

The Spruce Eats 

  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail (1 serving)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
254 Calories
2g Fat
26g Carbs
12g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 cocktail (1 serving)
Amount per serving
Calories 254
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 15534mg 675%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 10%
Dietary Fiber 10g 35%
Protein 12g
Calcium 35mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Singapore sling is a classic gin cocktail that has delighted drinkers for over a century. The popular story is that it was developed around 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon at the Long Bar in Singapore's Raffles Hotel. Though its origin is debatable, it is a semi-sweet, sparkling gin punch with a delightfully complex flavor.

The difficulty with the Singapore sling is that nearly every recipe is different. While many claim to be the "original" Raffles recipe, few of them agree on the formula or ingredients of this famous cocktail. The disparities seem to have begun as early as the drink's first decade and they've only grown over the years. To some extent, each version follows the classic gin sling formula of gin, citrus, sweetener, and soda.

This recipe is one of the newer variations. Others include anything from pineapple to grenadine or liqueurs like Cointreau. Cocktail historians have also found older recipes that are equally intriguing. No matter how you mix up the Singapore sling, it is a fascinating cocktail that is well worth your time to explore.

Ingredients

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients
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  2. Pour the gin, Benedictine, lime juice, cherry liqueur, and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes.

    add liquids to shaker
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  3. use shaker
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  4. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.

    Singapore Sling
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  5. Top with club soda.

    pour club soda
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  6. Garnish with a lemon slice and cherry.

    Singapore Sling
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  7. Serve and enjoy!

Tips

  • For the cherry liqueur, cherry brandy, kirsch, and Cherry Heering are all popular options.
  • If you like, float the cherry liqueur on top by pouring it over the back of a bar spoon after adding the soda.
  • Simple syrup can range in sweetness. The recipe's 1/4-ounce pour should be good with a rich (2:1) simple syrup. When using a syrup made with equal parts of sugar and water, you may want to add a little more.

The "Original" Singapore Sling?

In 2015, the Raffles Hotel Singapore celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Singapore sling. According to Raffles, Ngiam Tom Boon's intent was clear: to produce a cocktail that looked like juice and had a rosy color that would appeal to women. It was, as the hotel notes, "a socially acceptable punch for the ladies."

Beyond gin, pineapple juice is the primary ingredient in the current Raffles version. It also includes grenadine, lime juice, Benedictine, Cointreau, and—for the "pretty pink hue"—cherry brandy. (They failed to mention grenadine's contribution to the color.)

That description doesn't help with the "original" recipe, so it's time to turn to the cocktail historians. In the book, "Imbibe!," David Wondrich tells a completely different story. He points out that the Singapore sling may actually have been around since 1897 or so. It was a popular hangover cure and a general cure-all for anything that might ail you. This clearly contradicts Raffles' historical claims.

The cocktail sleuth and author dug up a reference to the recipe from the Singapore Cricket Club. This version pours 1 ounce each of cherry brandy, gin, Benedictine, and lime juice. Wondrich recommends stirring it with ice, then finishing it off with 1 to 2 ounces of sparkling water and a dash of Angostura bitters. The gin? Go with a traditional London dry or Old Tom. The suggested garnish is a lime twist.

That recipe is missing the pineapple juice. It's possible that it was the key ingredient Ngiam used to "improve" a popular drink found throughout Singapore at the time.

Popular Singapore Sling Variations

  • To further open up Singapore sling possibilities, Wondrich notes that you can play around with that formula. For instance, a few recipes from the 1930s used either claret or sloe gin to give the sling its signature color. With either, he recommends cutting back on the lime and Benedictine, then adding more gin.
  • Two popular versions are found in Gary "Gaz" Regan's essential bartending guide, "The Joy of Mixology." The Singapore Sling No. 2 recipe uses 2 ounces each of pineapple juice and Beefeater Gin. It also adds 1/2 ounce each of Cherry Heering and triple sec, 1/4 ounce of Benedictine, and 3/4 ounce of lime juice. It's topped with Angostura bitters and club soda. This recipe was apparently found on a Raffles coaster. It lacked the measurements, so bartenders had to wing it to come up with these recommendations.
  • The Singapore Sling No. 1 in Regan's book is completely different and skips the pineapple. Instead, it uses 2 ounces of gin, 1/2 ounce each of Benedictine and kirsch, 3/4 ounce of lemon juice, and both orange and Angostura bitters. As with most slings, it is topped with club soda.

Which Sling Recipe Is for You?

These five Singapore sling recipes do not even begin to reflect the many variations you can find. There are simply too many to count.

To make matters worse, many drinkers try to replicate the look of the sling they were served at Raffles and inundate it with too much red (typically grenadine). This can make the drink too sweet. The appearance of any cocktail is not as important as the taste, and the color may be off for any number of reasons. For instance, you may be using the colorless kirsch while the bar is using Cherry Heering or a cherry brandy with a similar deep red. 

The goal is to find a Singapore sling that you enjoy. Chasing the original recipe or going for the "right color" is not the most productive approach. Some of these recipes have a drier profile while others are sweeter, and you can always make your own adjustments. Why not? Everyone else did.

The good news is that most Singapore sling recipes agree—for the most part—on similar ingredients. That means you can save a little money and stock your bar with the essentials while playing around with these recipes until you find your ideal formula. Write it down so you can duplicate it later, then sit back and enjoy this iconic cocktail.

How Strong Is a Singapore Sling?

The Singapore sling is a lovely fruit punch that's relatively easy on the alcohol. Despite all the variables, it typically mixes up to about 15 percent ABV (30 proof), which is average for highball drinks.