The story goes that sometime around 1915 a bartender working at the Raffles Hotel Singapore mixed up the perfect drink to serve British visitors. A shot of gin, some Benedictine, cherry Heering and a splash of fruit juice became one of the most popular drinks in Asia, and it’s still one of the best things to order when in Singapore. The exact recipe was never recorded and the Singapore Sling of today can be found with variations specific to the bartender who mixes it.
Raffles is a charming colonial hotel with a very long history. It first opened in 1887 and has been romanticized by writers and poets ever since.
Although some may say that the hotel serves ‘commercialized’ drinks, there is something to be said about sipping a Sling where it first became famous. Pull up a stool at the legendary Long Bar and ask for an original. Relax into the nostalgic décor and contemplate how refreshing that sling must have been after months at sea in the tropic heat.
If the first drink goes down easily, try one of the variations they have on the menu combining different flavours including apple vodka with orange juice or gin and Lychee Liqueur.
Almost in the last place you’d expect to find a drinking establishment, Bar Stories is on Haji Lane among silk shops, mosques and Muslim eateries. The bar is unique in many ways - for example, the tables and chairs are from the furniture store downstairs, and you are welcome to buy your table and take it home with you.
This place has made its name serving the tastiest and most creative cocktails in the city. Order a Sling here and your drink may have a splash of yuzu - a Japanese citrus juice flown in from Kochi, Japan. Don’t stop with a Sling, though - get the edible Pina Colada that is as much a dessert as it is a drink.
1-Altitude Gallery & Bar
The bar is 282-metres-high and has a 360-degree view of the city. This is quite possibly the highest al fresco bar in the world and if that doesn’t take your breath away, the food and drinks certainly will.
Not only is the view spectacular, the drinks are made with fresh juices and mixed by hand. The gin-to-juice ratio is a little higher, creating a drink that’s still pink, but not quite as sweet as those served elsewhere.
There is a restaurant down below, but the bar serves some food if you’d like to linger for a while and sample some of the other 100 or so beverages on the menu.
28 Hong Kong Street
It is hard to find this place; the door is plain wood, there are no signs and there’s no doorman. When you think you’re close, look for well-dressed people standing around and you’ve likely found the right spot. The bar only seats 60, but once you get in you’ll see why it is consistently listed as one of the best bars in the world.
If you can get the bartender to mix you a Sling here, you’re almost guaranteed to be handed the best drink you’ve ever had, but convincing your mixologist to create something so simple may be difficult.
The drinks menu features eight classic beverages and eight that are progressive. After you’ve tried your Sling, ask the bartender to make you his favourite drink and sit back for a pleasant evening of excellent cocktails and great food.
The Straits Bar
You’ll feel posh just sitting in this elegant bar at the top of the Tower Club looking out at Singapore Harbour. If you feel like dressing up a bit, Straits is a good place to mingle with classy people having a fun night out.
Take a seat near the window and order a Sling while you contemplate the menu. Follow your Sling with the cocktail of the month, a whiskey-tasting or one of the $1 martinis. And as it looks like you’ll be here for a while, have another Sling as you make up your mind.
Jigger & Pony
Another bar that is almost secretive in its location, Jigger & Pony is tucked away in a shop-house that can be difficult to find. It’s frequently crowded, but they do take reservations if you don’t care to wait with the crowd outside the door.
The owners take pride in offering the best renditions of classic cocktails, both in their purest forms and some with a twist. Instead of a Sling, order the Little Red Dot, which is the bar’s modern version of the classic drink. It’s still gin and fruit juice, but mixed in a way that’s refreshing and completely suited to the 21st century.
Axis Bar & Lounge
Sleek, chic and contemporary is the feeling at this bar. It’s the type of place where you might expect to see ladies sitting delicately on tea - and you do. This is one of the better places for high tea, or for simply enjoying a spectacular view or sitting down to the amazing food.
With all the reasons to come here, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try the bar’s version of the traditional drink, which is made with vodka instead of gin. The Mandarin Sling pairs the traditional Kirschwasser and Benedictine D.O.M. with mandarin vodka for a citrus-y twist on the old favourite. Leave the tea to the old ladies and watch the night fall as you sip your Sling and munch on some delicious tapas.