Much has been written about the Singapore Sling. Created in 1915 by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, it had a vibrant, bright red color akin to a psychedelic fruit punch. It didn’t come to be that color by accident. At the time, it was improper for women to drink alcohol in public (within the island’s populace), instead they were only allowed teas and fruit punches. By making the Singapore Sling red, like most non-alcoholic fruit punches, Ngiam Tong Boon essentially created a camouflaged cocktail. The gin drink enabled women to get just as sauced as their male counterparts without anyone in on the joke except for the bartenders serving them.
The Singapore Sling wasn’t the first sling ever invented, but it’s certainly the most famous. Slings come from the German word “schlingen,” which means “to swallow.” They’re typically made with a spirit, citrus, water and sugar. While they used to be made either hot or cold, the Singapore Sling captured the hearts of drinkers everywhere, and cold became de rigueur. Today, you can can find Singapore Slings at bars around the world. It’s a seminal drink in the tiki movement, with modern tiki bars putting their own twists on the classic. Sometimes that modification is simply switching up the gin (a London Dry like Tanqueray works as well as Plymouth which works as well as something botanical like Hendrick’s), or adding a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas style twist with a mezcal and beer back like the San Francisco bar Bon Voyage!