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History of Singapore Sling

May 9, 2015 Food & Beverage No Comments Email Email

The Singapore Sling, widely regarded as the national drink of the country, was first created in 1915 at Raffles Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. Primarily a gin-based cocktail, the Singapore Sling also contains pineapple juice as the main ingredient, along with grenadine, lime juice and Dom Benedictine. Giving it the pretty pink hue are cherry brandy and Cointreau. Bartender Ngiam deliberately chose to give the cocktail this rosy colour.

Following the turn of the century in colonial Singapore, Raffles Singapore was the gathering place for the community and Long Bar was the watering hole. It was common to see the gentlemen nursing glasses of gin or whisky. for the ladies, etiquette dictated they could not consume alcohol in public, and for the sake of public modesty, fruit juices and teas were their preferred beverage.

The talented Ngiam thus saw a niche in the market and decided to create a cocktail that looked like a fruit juice, but was actually infused with gin and other liqueurs. Masking it in pink gave it a feminine flair and together with the use of clear alcohol, he cleverly led people into thinking it was a socially acceptable punch for the ladies. With that, the Singapore Sling was born. Needless to say, it became an instant hit.

Gallant gentlemen could buy their lady friends a real drink and the cocktail was a major draw for visitors to Raffles Singapore. When the British travelled outside of Singapore, they brought the recipe with them, spreading word of it far and wide.

Today, the Singapore Sling can be enjoyed in bars and lounges around the world, from New York to London, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai. It is even available onboard major international airlines such as Singapore Airlines.


30 ml 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

Interesting Facts and Figures about the Singapore Sling 

  1. Ngiam Tong Boon, the bartender of Long Bar who created the Singapore Sling, hailed from Hainan Island, China. He had previously worked in Vietnam, Burma and onboard French ships before joining the Raffles. He was known to assist many of his kinsmen to get work in Singapore, particularly at the Long Bar. Ngiam is also credited for coming up with the Million Dollar Cocktail.
  1. Mr Ngiam locked away his precious recipe books, as well as the Sling recipe hastily jotted down on a bar-chit in 1936 by a visitor to the Hotel who asked the waiter for it
  1. When it was first created, the cocktail was known as the Singapore Gin Sling.
  1. Dutch archaeologist Professor Pieter van Stein Callenfels, a regular guest of the hotel in the early 20th century, could knock back 10 Singapore Slings non-stop in one sitting.
  1. The recipe of the Singapore Sling remains unchanged from the time it was created.

List of Singapore Sling Merchandise

A range of Singapore Sling merchandise will be available at the Raffles Gift Shop.

  1. Singapore Sling Glassware (with commemorative logo) – S$25.90
  2. Singapore Sling Mix (box of 6 mini bottles) – S$53.90
  3. Singapore Sling Shaker – S$12.90
  4. Singapore Sling Keychain – S$14.90
  5. Box of Singapore Sling Chocolates – S$36.00
  6. Singapore Sling Marmalade – S$16.90
  7. Singapore Sling Tea – S$29.90
  8. Singapore Sling Poster – S$15.00 (excluding poster tube)
  9. Singapore Sling T-shirts (2 Designs) – From S$29.90 to S$32.90 

All prices above are nett prices and correct at time of printing, all information is subject to change without notice.

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