Long before Singapore became known to foreigners for banning life’s simple pleasures like chewing gum, or as a gangland in disguise thanks to American TV slop Criminal Minds, the tiny island-state was known the world over for a vibrantly colourful and refreshing cocktail: the Singapore Sling. Developed in around 1915 by Hainanese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon at The Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar, the gin sling-derived bar favourite has seen numerous iterations over the years by bartenders at home and abroad, twisting its original recipe of gin, cherry brandy and fruit juices to bring creatively new interpretations to the classic.
In anticipation of Singapore’s 52nd birthday, Scottish gin purveyor The Botanist, the first and only dry gin originating from the isle of Islay, has tasked five Singapore-based bartenders to put their own spin on the iconic drink, using the 22-hand-foraged botanical gin as a canvas and exclusively available at their respective establishments until the end of August. As The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks author David A. Embury notes, “Of all the recipes published for [this drink] I have never seen any two that were alike.” Here, we have the proof.
Ong Lai Sling
by Stephanie Lim, Bitters & Love
Ingredients: The Botanist Gin, cherry liqueur, Cointreau, Benedictine D.O.M, pineapple tart syrup, fresh lime juice, Angostura Bitters.
“Ong Lai means ‘pineapple’ in Hokkien, and sounds similar to wang lai which means prosperity to come. This is the iconic Singapore Sling, blessed with the symbolism of good luck and prosperity from a popular local snack, pineapple tarts.”
$24+, available at Bitters & Love, 118 Telok Ayer Street.
by Edwin Poh, Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall
Ingredients: The Botanist Gin, Cointreau, homemade cherry Cognac, pineapple shrub, fresh pomelo juice, homemade pomelo syrup, pomegranate seeds, Tiger Beer.
“The classic Singapore Sling, delicately refined with fresh and homemade ingredients, starring distinctly Singaporean flavours like pomelo and our national beer.”
$26+, available at Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall, 60A Boat Quay.
We Are Singapore!
by Jerrold Khoo, The Flagship
Ingredients: The Botanist Gin, Cointreau, Benedictine D.O.M, cherry liqueur, pineapple juice, chilli padi, apple cider vinegar, Brewlander Hope Summer Ale.
“A twist to our iconic national cocktail with the nostalgic flavours from an old way of snacking on sweet pineapple slices mixed with chili tau yu (soy sauce).”
$25++, available at The Flagship, 20 Bukit Pasoh Road.
by Panying Lee, Nutmeg & Clove
Ingredients: The Botanist Gin, Cointreau, cherry liqueur, Benedictine D.O.M, spiced pineapple, lime juice, calamansi juice, kaffir lime leaves, coconut soda.
“Tropical, refreshing, and made truly Singaporean with very familiar flavors from typical hawker fare like coconut, calamansi and kaffir lime leaves.”
$18++, available at Nutmeg & Clove, 10 Ann Siang Hill.
Culture of Singapore
by Boo Jing Heng, TESS Bar & Kitchen
Ingredients: The Botanist Gin, Cointreau, home blend Earl Grey, cassis, rose water, lemon juice, sugar, pomegranate seeds, mint leaves.
“A spin to the Straits Sling, infused with symbols of our rich, multi-ethnic cultures and a nod to our history as a British colony. The cocktail is generously topped with pomegranate seeds that represent our tight but united population, and refreshing mint leaves that symbolize our constant innovation.”
$22++, available at TESS Bar & Kitchen, 38 Seah Street.