The Intoxicologist

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Fling with the Sling

What do the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas have in common? On the surface, it would appear not much. Closer examination may reveal the answer to your next drink order or cocktail party punch; the Singapore Sling or the Chinatown Sling.

While the Raffles Hotel is named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern day Singapore, in the world of bartending the Raffles Hotel is more widely known as the home of the Singapore Sling. It was in the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel where Ngiam Tong Boon is said to have invented the Singapore Sling sometime between 1910 and 1915. The recipe for this drink was such a secret that it was kept locked away in a safe along with Ngiam’s other recipe books. Somewhere along the way, however, the original recipe to the Singapore Sling was lost.

During the 1970’s management began restoring the Raffles Hotel to its original luster. One of the items they wanted to bring back to the Long Bar was the Singapore Sling, since it was so popular in the earlier days of the Raffles Hotel. It is presumed during this rebuilding time one of Ngiam’s nephews was contacted and a close version of the original recipe was concocted. Over time this recipe has been modified rather drastically from the original, but with much broader appeal. The modernized version of the Singapore Sling is still served at the original Raffles Hotel and Long Bar. The drink is also complimentary on all Singapore Airlines flights to all passengers. What a deal!

What does the Singapore Sling have to do with the MGM Grand in Las Vegas? There is no Long Bar at the MGM Grand, but there is Nob Hill. Nob Hill is a San Francisco styled eatery with fresh produce and poultry flown in daily from San Francisco to capture the authenticity of the Bay Area. While the food is no doubt fabulous with its world class chef, Michael Mina, my focus is on the bar area with one drink in particular they have created. It is the Chinatown Sling based on the Singapore Sling from the Raffles Hotel. The Chinatown drink is a pitcher version of the Singapore Sling making it a perfect rendition for your next cocktail party. What makes this version of the Singapore Sling special is it will take the work out of the individualized cocktail while leaving the zing in the Sling.

The Singapore Sling is a time consuming drink to put together with its many ingredients. The individual cocktail has nine ingredients in dashes and quarter measures combined in a cocktail shaker and then strained into a Collins glass with two garnishes. The Singapore Sling has an orange slice and cherry garnish; both rather nice and fitting for this drink. All the work and time that goes into this cocktail are not in vain. It does make a tasty, complex drink with an equally nice pink hue. It is a classic listed among the International Bartenders Association fifty greatest cocktails. The time involved in putting an individual Singapore Sling together and the flavor make it perfect for ordering at a cocktail lounge. Someone else does the work. You enjoy your drink and companion.

The Chinatown Sling has an amazing color to it as well, but for added drama the Cherry Heering is left out of the pitcher combination until the very end and added as a topper to the individual drink instead. This allows the Cherry Heering to settle within the liquid instead of integrate into the drink giving the Chinatown Sling a visual layered effect. Add to that the equally complex flavor your guests will experience when they finally taste it and this makes for an excellent party drink. What works in your favor here is the Chinatown Sling is a pitcher drink made ahead of time with six ingredients rather than nine. Instead of working making drinks for your guests, you will be sipping a refreshing Chinatown Sling with them. Seeing and tasting is believing. As for the garnish, for your cocktail party, flee from the routine just as Nob Hill in Las Vegas veers from the run of the mill. The Chinatown Sling garnish should be a tropical pineapple spear and a cherry. There is no need to peel the pineapple. Leaving the pineapple with the skin on and then cut in long spears gives the Chinatown Sling a spectacular tropical finish. The cherry gives an extra dollop of color to an already fabulous drink for you and your guest’s sipping pleasure.

Singapore Sling

1-1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Benedictine
Dash of Angostura Bitters
2 Dashes Grenadine
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Club Soda (optional)
Garnish with Orange Slice and Cherry

Combine all ingredients except club soda and garnishes in a cocktail shaker filled 1/3 full with ice. Shake. Strain into a Collins glass filled 1/2 – 2/3 full with ice. Top off with club soda. Garnish with the orange slice curved into a half moon on a cocktail pick and a cherry.

Chinatown Sling

16 oz Pineapple Juice
10 oz Rangpur Gin
4 oz Cointreau
4 oz Benedictine
1 Scant Teaspoon Angostura Bitters
2 oz Cherry Heering
Garnish with Pineapple Spears and Maraschino Cherries

Combine all ingredients except Cherry Heering and garnishes in a pitcher. Refrigerate until well chilled, approximately two hours. Stir. Fill old fashioned glasses with ice. Fill with Chinatown Sling mixture within half inch of top. Top each glass with 1/4 ounce of cherry liqueur. Garnish with pineapple spear and cherry.

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