Cocktails - Who doesn’t love cocktails? To me, cocktails scream ‘holidays’! So when I had the chance to explore the origins of the now infamous Singapore Sling at the beautiful and historic Raffles Hotel in Singapore, I couldn’t resist.
The Singapore Sling
Bartender Ngiam Tong Boon created the Singapore Sling, while employed in the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel in 1915. The cocktail is famed for being sweet, sharp, smooth and thirst quenching, perfect in the Singapore humidity. It was originally meant as a cocktail for ladies, hence the pink colour, and contains gin, cherry brandy, pineapple juice, lime juice, Cointreau, Dom Benedictine, grenadine and Angostura Bitters. (I'm not sure how ladylike the women of the early 20th Century would have been with all that booze inside them!)
|Singapore Sling in the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore|
It is still possible to visit the Long Bar today, pull up a rattan seat and sip on a Singapore Sling. Walking into the bar is like walking into a different era. Shutters keep the bar dimly lit, to prevent the worst of the heat coming in. Ceiling-mounted hand fans waft air over the drinkers below, and historic art and monochrome photos hang on the walls. It’s the sort of environment that makes you imagine Hemmingway sitting at the bar.
With the cocktails costing S$28 each it is clear the hotel is not just selling the drink but the experience. Still, bags of monkey nuts on the bar tables mean you can always compensate by scoffing nuts! Judging by the crunching underfoot, and somewhat strangely, it seems most people throw the shells on the ground.
|Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore|
The experience doesn’t end there though. If you need to sober up before venturing back out into the city, a stroll around the grounds of the Raffles Hotel is rewarding. Built in 1899, the low-rise, white verandah-enclosed colonial style buildings surround tranquil courtyards and lush green gardens.
This one-time fashionable, colonial haunt of characters such as Charlie Chaplin and Noel Coward, was designed as a self-contained tranquil escape for Europeans amidst the heat and chaos of south east Asia. Despite being overlooking by towering skyscrapers, the hotel still maintains that serene air of calm. Private areas and a pool are available to hotel guests. Visitors can stroll between gardens, admire the photos of one-time resident writers in the writers’ bar in the lobby, explore the Raffles Hotel Museum, take in some of the high-end boutiques or buy a souvenir in the Raffles Hotel Shop. There are also several restaurants, cafes and bakeries that can be enjoyed.
|The Courtyard, Raffles Hotel, Singapore|
While Raffles Hotel is not the cheapest stop you might make in Singapore, especially if you enjoy a cocktail or two, it is still interesting to explore, even if you don't drink alcohol. Raffles Hotel gives visitors an introduction to part of Singapore’s history, washed down with a tasty cocktail. As far as I’m concerned, that makes it an excellent experience!