Ring the bell, it's time for Last Call, where JK Grence, bartender at Shady's, serves up booze advice and recipes. Got a burning question for your bartender? Leave it in the comments and it might be answered in a future column. Just as I was enjoying the sunny 80-degree days this week, the weather has switched back to cool winter rain. The warm days stuck around long enough to get me in the mood for something tropical. And now that it's raining... I could go for a vacation, but my pocketbook isn't allowing for the grand international excursion I crave. So, I'm going to take my tropical vacation in a glass.
I love the muddled history of the Singapore Sling. There's one thing we know for sure: The place that put it on the map was the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. From there, things get less conclusive. It might be a couple of years away from its 100th birthday. Or maybe it already happened. The hotel's official line is that it was created in 1915. But there's evidence the drink was around well before that, possibly being created in the late 1800s before the Long Bar made it popular.
And there's the matter of the recipe proper. The true original recipe has been lost to history. The recipe changed a few times before the first published recipe, which came about when the creator scribbled it down on a drink chit for a guest who requested the recipe in 1936. Even then, it's been modified over time. The only consistent things: It's red, and there's gin in it.
The red part these days is often grenadine. That's a shame. It's much better with cherry liqueur, such as the excellent Cherry Heering. The drink gets a little extra backbone from Bénédictine, a French herbal liqueur with medicinal undertones. A great deal of modern recipes add pineapple juice. I can understand the allure: It makes the drink an especially fetching shade of pink, and the foamy head created by shaking pineapple juice is quite attractive in the glass. But, I'll happily take mine the old-fashioned way, with little more than a squeeze of lime and a splash of soda. Try it both ways, and see which one you like more. Singapore Sling (Vintage Style) At the bar, I make these half-size to ensure my guests aren't under the table sooner than they expected. Looking for something to do with that bottle of B&B collecting dust on your bar? You can use it to substitute for the brandy and Bénédictine. 1 ounce lime juice 2 ounces gin 1 ounce Cherry Heering ½ ounce brandy ½ ounce Bénédictine Shake well with ice cubes. Strain into a large glass. Add 1½ ounces club soda. Stir gently. Fill glass with ice cubes.
Singapore Sling (Modern Style) 1½ ounces lemon juice ½ ounce grenadine 4 ounces pineapple juice 2 ounces gin 1 ounce Cherry Heering ½ ounce Cointreau ½ ounce Bénédictine 1 dash Angostura bitters Shake well with ice cubes. Strain over ice cubes in a Hurricane glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry.