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May 17, 2008 12:01 AM

The Singapore Sling in Singapore--reasonable version?

One of my mother's dreams to to have a Singapore Sling in Singapore. I know some of you may think she should try to have a different dream, but hey, she's 72 years old and she has had this dream since she was a teenager watching those now classic movies which made the Sling famous around the world. The last time we were in Singapore, she had to settle for a mango sling at a posh hotel's New Year buffet, but on this trip I'd like to find her the real thing.

I understand Raffles Hotel's version is a pre-mixed drink, and although it's supposedly the original location, I'd like to avoid it (and its S$24 price tag). Does anyone have any suggestions for a freshly-made Singapore Sling that's less than S$24? Actually, I don't mind paying S$24 for it, as long as it is freshly made and good. A non-nightclub atmosphere would be best (she's 72, remember), but a nice lounge with jazz or a piano player would be good, but not necessary. It's the sling that's important.

Or should we just stick to the one we can get on Singapore Airlines?

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  1. The new Raffles Hotel has nothing to do with the original before the remodel. When I first visited The Long Bar before the remodel it was very decrepit looking but at least they mixed the Singapore Sling on the spot and it felt like you had entered a time-warp. After the remodel, they have managed to make the hotel look and feel like any other chain hotel. I purposely have avoided the new hotel after once having a Singapore Sling there immediately after the reopening, so maybe with time the place has gained some sort of patina.

    1 Reply
    1. re: marshal4

      That's pretty much the reason I want to avoid Raffles. I want a freshly-made Sling, not an instant version. I can get the instant version on the plane over (in a plastic cup, though). I want a good one. Anyone know where I can get a good one?

    2. i had an interesting experience at raffles two years ago. i was staying at the oriental and walked over to the bar at raffles around 11:30 a.m.. they were just setting up shop. the drinks manager was taking inventory before handing the work off to staff. i walked in, sat at the bar and introduced myself. i ordered a singapore sling. bar tender looked at the manager, manager looked at her then me. he took over.

      the drink was fresh, potent and way too contrived for my martini tastes. still, it was a solid effort and i give the manager credit. i had him sign the recipe card.

      a day or two later, deb and i popped over after some business. the gin and tonics were outstanding (you build your own - tonic is the real deal). at the end of the day, the bar at raffles is a tourist destination. still, the mechanical fans, high ceilings, wrap veranda and open doors make for a fine visit. give it a shot for one drink so you'll know first-hand what the place is like.

      5 Replies
      1. re: steve h.

        So you had a sling made from scratch, rather than from a mix? It is my understanding that at Raffles, they've been made from a mix for quite some time. But maybe if we go early enough, they'll make us one from scratch?

        Time Magazine rated the Boom Boom Room's SS as one of the best, but I don't think my mother would be too keen on the atmosphere. They also rated Shangri-La's SS above Raffles.

        1. re: prasantrin

          This is not a difficult drink to make, although it must contain a good quality cherry brandy and decent gin. Following: is supposedly the original recipe from Raffles. However, it is up for conjecture if it actually is:
          30ml Gin
          15 ml Cherry Brandy
          120 ml Pineapple Juice
          15 ml Lime Juice
          7.5 ml Cointreau
          7.5 ml Dom Benedictine
          10 ml Grenadine
          A Dash of Angostura Bitters
          Garnish with a slice of Pineapple and Cherry

          Frankly, if I were you I would go to any bar in one of the top five-star hotels in Singapore and I am certain that you and your mother will have a better experience than at the Raffles and certainly better than the plastic cup rendition on the airline. Cheers, and have a good time!

          1. re: prasantrin

            Actually, I think Raffles Hotel's SS has improved somewhat - perhaps because of their use of pre-mixes?! The current version tasted better than the one I had when it first re-opened after remodeling in 1992 (my last visit was just 2 weeks ago with a couple of visiting Britishers).

            In fact, I think your mum may actually LOVE having a SS at the Raffles Hotel courtyard. It may be contrived, but they do make a good job of recreating the old, colonial Singapore atmosphere.

            Besides, I always preferred going to a historic spot - just for the experience, besides the food. E.g. I'd bring new diners to have Peking duck at Quanjude Kaoyadian in Qianmen, Beijing, rather than better-tasting ones in newer restaurants elsewhere, or xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung whence in Taipei, or tempura at Ten-ichi, Tokyo. You can't never beat the originals - there's always a story to tell afterwards.

            1. re: klyeoh

              i would suck it up at the raffles too...the nostalgia / atmosphere is great. and $24 sgd is cheaper then getting a brunch there and if it makes my mother happy i'd just stay quiet on the cough syrup cocktail and pretend we're in a 1950s movie.

              1. re: Hot Chocolate

                You know, I think you and klyeoh are right. For my mother it really will be about experiencing one of the dreams of her youth rather than the beverage. Plus she's a really cheap drunk (when we were last in Singapore, after just one or two sips of her cocktail she asked, "Why is the floor so uneven?" It wasn't--she was drunk!), and I'll probably be the one finishing it, anyway.

                And if we don't make it to the Raffles Hotel, we can just hit any one of the 4-stars we happen to be near and order a Sling, as marshal4 says.