Straits Sling & Singapore Spiced Sling

When I wrote about the Singapore Sling here on this blog about two and a half years ago, I also dropped a few lines about the name of that world-famous cocktail. However, I kept it rather short at that time and merely pointed out that this drink – although Singaporean in its original form – probably did not have much in common with today’s recipe. After I recently had an excellent twist of a Singapore Sling and once again spend some time thinking about the drink, I would like to add a little more information today – and present two very interesting recipes.

A sling is basically a very old name for mixed drinks that can be traced back to the 17th century. And as I noted in my article about the Bittered Sling, the sling – being basically a mixture of a spirit, sugar and water – also played a central role in the research for the origins of the term “cocktail”. The New York newspaper “The Balance, and Columbian Repository” humorously reported about the composition of these new drinks in 1806 when they were served during an election campaign:

„Cock-tail, then, is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters – it is vulgarly called a bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. […] a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else.“ (1806)

a Bittered Sling

So a sling with bitters is basically what nowadays we would call an Old Fashioned or – if we start with whiskey as a basis – what spread in the USA at that time as a cocktail or Whiskey Cocktail.

Now, the Singapore Sling is far away from an Old Fashioned, no question about that. But as the American cocktail historian David Wondrich found out during the research of old newspapers, Singapore as a former British crown colony was notorious for the “Straits Slings” at the turn of the 19th century to the 20th century (although the quality was usually not very good, as the newspapers describe). The name “Straits” was derived from the “Straits Settlements”, a name for British colonies on the Straits of Malacca.

A Straits Sling differed from a Singapore Sling by the use of a higher proportion of gin, lemon juice instead of lime juice, cherry brandy instead of cherry liqueur (a term not used uniformly in many recipes –Instead of cherry brandy in Germany or Europe you’d say “Kirschwasser” or cherry eau-de-vie), the addition of orange bitters, the complete absence of pineapple juice and the addition of soda water. (By the way, this list of ingredients is not by chance reminiscent of a Smuggler’s Cove Straits Sling.)

How many different variants and recipes of those Straits Slings existed is definitely no longer possible to tell today. It is also not quite clear how they were served. Considering today’s Singapore Sling, the use of a long drink or highball glass is quite logical. But if you think about the original slings, however, you might prefer a larger tumbler (a D.O.F. tumbler). Therefore, I’ve opted for such a tumbler to serve my Straits Sling in today, but there is definitely not a right or wrong here.

The Singapore Sling twist which I mentioned at the beginning and which was the initial reason for writing this article, was served to me in a restaurant and it substituted the Benedictine with Fernet. I really liked the taste of it and so I decided to recreate that cocktail. I also used fresh pomegranate juice instead of grenadine and added a hint of ginger syrup and a Dash of the fine Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub. As the drink is much more spicy and bitter, I simply call it a Singapore Spiced Sling.

A Straits Sling

Recipe “Straits Sling”:

6 cl gin
1,5 cl Bénédictine D.O.M.
1,5 cl cherry brandy
1,5 cl lemon juice
2 squirts Angostura Bitters
2 dashes of Orange Bitters
soda water

Preparation: Shake all ingredients except for the soda water vigorously on ice and strain into a glass filled with fresh ice cubes. Top with some soda water.

Glass: D.O.F. tumbler

Garnish: dried citrus wheels


The Singapore Spiced Sling

Recipe “Singapore Spiced Sling”:

4 cl gin
1,5 cl Luxardo Sangue Morlacco
2 bar spoons Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
3 bar spoons Nardini Fernet
1 cl fresh pomegranate juice
0,5 cl ginger syrup
1,5 cl lime juice
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1 Dash Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub
10 cl pineapple juice from the juicer

Preparation: Simply shake all ingredients vigorously on ice and strain into a glass filled with ice cubes.

Glass: Highball

Garnish: pineapple leaves, dried orange and lime wheel

Buying souces: At specialized retailers or online. If you are looking for suitable glasswareyou’re your Singapore Slings, Straits Slings, Bittered Slings or other drinks, you can quickly find them in online shops for bar accessories, for instance at Gasoni.

(This article was written in the course of a cooperation with Gasoni.DE GmbH)


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