Classic Singapore Sling Cocktail

Singapore sling cocktail with a maraschino cherry and lemon garnish

The Spruce 

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
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
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 enchanted 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 semisweet, sparkling fruity punch with a delightfully complex flavor.

Nearly every Singapore sling recipe is different, and few agree on the formula or ingredients of this famous cocktail. While many claim to be the "original" Raffles version, that recipe was apparently lost in the 1930s. To some extent, each version follows the gin sling formula of gin, citrus, sweetener, and soda. Many bartenders agree that Bénédictine is this sling's key ingredient, and the liqueur's herbaceous flavor essential to any good Singapore sling.

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

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce Bénédictine
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce cherry liqueur
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Garnish: ​lemon slice
  • Garnish: maraschino cherry

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make a classic Singapore sling cocktail on a metal tray
    The Spruce
  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes, pour the gin, Bénédictine, lime juice, cherry liqueur, and simple syrup.

    Cocktail shaker with ice and gin surrounded by ingredients including cherry liqueur, simple syrup, and fresh lemon and lime
    The Spruce
  3. Shake well.

    A metal tray with a cocktail shaker along with ingredients and garnishes
    The Spruce
  4. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.

    Singapore sling in a tall glass on a tray with maraschino cherries and lemon slices
    The Spruce
  5. Top with club soda.

    Singapore sling topped with club soda
    The Spruce
  6. Garnish with a lemon slice and cherry. Serve and enjoy.

    Singapore sling cocktail garnished with a maraschino cherry and lemon
    The Spruce 

Tips

  • For the cherry liqueur, cherry brandy, kirsch, and Cherry Heering are 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.

What Is in the Raffles Singapore Sling?

In 2015, the Raffles Hotel Singapore celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Singapore sling, which some call Singapore's national drink. 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 Raffles version. It also includes grenadine, lime juice, Bénédictine, Cointreau, and—for the "pretty pink hue"—cherry brandy. (They failed to mention grenadine's contribution to the color.)

An Earlier Singapore Sling

Raffles has the most famous claim to the Singapore sling. However, cocktail historian David Wondrich tells an entirely different story in his book, "Imbibe!." An adaptation of the gin sling, it may have been around since 1897 or so and was a popular hangover cure and a general cure-all for anything that might ail you.

Wondrich dug up a recipe from the Singapore Cricket Club. This version pours 1 ounce each of cherry brandy, gin, Bénédictine, 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. For the gin, a traditional London dry or Old Tom is a nice choice, and 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

  • Wondrich notes that 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 Bénédictine, then adding more gin.
  • Harry Craddock's "The Savoy Cocktail Book" (1930) includes the simplest Singapore sling: Dry gin, cherry brandy, lemon juice, and soda.
  • Two popular versions are found in Gary "Gaz" Regan's "The Joy of Mixology." The Singapore Sling No. 2 recipe uses 2 ounces each of pineapple juice and Beefeater Gin, 1/2 ounce each of Cherry Heering and triple sec, 1/4 ounce Bénédictine, and 3/4 ounce of lime juice. It's topped with Angostura Bitters and club soda. This recipe was apparently found on a coaster from Raffles and lacked measurements, so bartenders had to wing it to come up with these recommendations.
  • Regan's Singapore Sling No. 1 recipe is completely different and skips the pineapple. Instead, it uses 2 ounces of gin, 1/2 ounce each of Bénédictine and kirsch, 3/4 ounce of lemon juice, and both orange and aromatic bitters. As with most slings, it is topped with club soda.

Which Sling Recipe Is for You?

These versions do not even begin to reflect the many Singapore slings you can find. There are too many to count.

Many drinkers make matters worse by trying 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. Any cocktail's appearance 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 uses Cherry Heering or a cherry brandy with a similar deep red color. 

The goal is to find a Singapore sling that you enjoy. Chasing the original recipe or going for the "right color" is not a productive approach. Some 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, for the most part, Singapore sling recipes agree 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.