The Singapore Sling is a pretty solid cocktail. It’s sweet and tart and complex and layered, and it tends to get lumped into the family of “Tiki drinks.” But there’s a lot of aficionados of classic Tiki who dispute the Singapore Sling’s status as a Tiki drink: it was invented in Singapore (naturally) probably around the turn of the 20th Century or so, and not in the heartland of classic Tiki culture, California, in the 1940s and 1950s, when guys like Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic were inventing drinks like the Zombie and the Jet Pilot. And you know what? Nitpicking over the status of a drink seems like one of the least Tiki things you can do. Just saying. So here’s a variation on the Singapore Sling that pays homage to the layered, tropical, spicy flavors of the original, the South Seas Sling. – Andrew
The South Seas Sling
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake gently. Strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with fresh fruit and flowers. Enjoy!
(In general, drinks like this served over ice – which will melt, adding more water to the drink – should only be shaken gently and for less time than you’d use for a drink served straight up. Your goal is to mix up the booze and fruit juice but avoid diluting the drink too much.)
The original Singapore Sling is a wondrous mix of sweet and sour and complex, vaguely medicinal botanicals. This version replaces the dry gin with an American gin, like Hendricks, which emphasize other botanicals alongside juniper. It also replaces the original’s cherry liqueur with St-Germain’s floral fruitiness. The result is a softer, fruitier, and snappier drink than the original.
We left the original’s Benedictine – a sweet, enormously complex herbal liqueur – alone. It seems like an odd choice for a Tiki drink, since Benedictine tends to turn up more in boozy, old school drinks like the Vieux Carre. But the uniqueness of the Singapore Sling as a Tiki drink seems to hinge on its unusual pairing of all these complex botanical flavors with the big tropical fruit flavors.
Pineapple is a nice complement to these flavors, but a bit of lime lends a really necessary acidity; we tried a version without lime that ended up very limp. So don’t forget the lime and, in general, remember that an unbalanced recipe can often benefit from a touch of acid that can cut through and clarify a jumbled flavor profile.
So is the South Seas Sling – and its predecessor, the Singapore Sling – a Tiki drink? It’s fun and fruity and builds layers of complex flavors, all of which make it Tiki in my book. But ultimately, policing drinks is for squares. Don’t be a square. Just have fun.
(Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, where we’ve been posting our experiments before they make their way onto this column!)
Glassware by Liquorary
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper