Write down your recipes. It seems obvious, but for the Singapore Sling it meant one-hundred and thirty years of confusion. In the 1920’s, a traveling American could order a “Gin Sling” at any number of dives, but everyone knew the Raffles Hotel made the best. Problem is, the hotel, in a state of mild paranoia, never wrote anything down (seems like a spot under the cash register drawer would have sufficed). In fact, the hotel still serves the drink today, but opts for something quite different, since they really have no idea how to make the original.
Let’s not be mopey here. Mixology is more art than science, and mystery contributes to both the Sling’s allure, as well as its myriad fun and delicious variations, all courtesy of barstool historians. Fresh pineapple is one of the most interesting alternatives: compensate for the extra sweetness by docking from the Benedictine and Heering. Alternatively—or as an adventurous bonus—Angostura will bring a spicy richness that fits the flavor profile. For something spirit forward, various cherry brandies are sometimes used to substitute for Heering.
As gin lovers, the recipe transcribed here is our favorite. It balances historical accuracy with modern tastes, highlighting all the stuff that appealed to the weary traveler so many years ago. Benedictine and Heering act as above-average sweeteners, draped over a backbone of fresh lime. A good dry gin noses through surprisingly well, and sparkles at the top over a splash of soda water. For a beautiful fade, start with thick ingredients like Heering and Benedictine, then move to gin, lime, and soda. When employing this effect, consider a straw. Most drinkers love good presentation, but prefer not to stir with their fingers.