Dissolve 1 Teaspoonful of Sugar in Water.
1 Glass Dry Gin.
1 Lump of Ice.
Served in long tumbler and fill with water or soda; if served hot a little nutmeg on top.
I just wasn’t feeling this recipe, so I did a little research.
First off, in drinky circles, probably the most famous reference to the Sling comes from one of the first published references to the Cocktail. From the May 13, 1806 edition of The Balance and Columbian Repository:
To the Editor of the Balance.
I observe in your paper of the 6th instant, in the account of a democratic candidate for a seat in the legislature, marked under the head of Loss, 25 do. cock-tail. Will you be so obliging as to inform me what is meant by this species of refreshment? Though a stranger to you, I believe, from your general character, you will not suppose this request to be impertinent.
I have heard of a forum, of phlegm-cutter and fog driver, of wetting the whistle, of moistening the clay, of a fillip, a spur in the head, quenching a spark in the throat, of flip & c, but never in my life, though have lived a good many years, did I hear of cock tail before. Is it peculiar to a part of this country? Or is it a late invention? Is the name expressive of the effect which the drink has on a particular part of the body? Or does it signify that the democrats who take the potion are turned topsycurvy, and have their heads where their tails should be? I should think the latter to be the real solution; but am unwilling to determine finally until I receive all the information in my power.
At the beginning of the revolution, a physician publicly recommended the moss which grew on a tree as a substitute for tea. He found on experiment, that it had more of a stimulating quality then he approved; and therefore, he afterward as publicly denounced it. Whatever cock tail is, it may be properly administered only at certain times and to certain constitutions. A few years ago, when the democrats were bawling for Jefferson and Clinton, one of the polls was held in the city of New York at a place where ice cream was sold. Their temperament then was remarkably adust and bilious. Something was necessary to cool them. Now when they are sunk into rigidity, it might be equally necessary, by cock-tail to warm and rouse them.
I hope you will construe nothing that I have said as disrespectful. I read your paper with great pleasure and wish it the most extensive circulation. Whether you answer my inquiry or not, I shall still remain,
[As I make it a point, never to publish anything (under my editorial head) but which I can explain, I shall not hesitate to gratify the curiosity of my inquisitive correspondent: Cock tail, then is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said also, to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because, a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else.
If a Cocktail, “is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling,” then, ipso facto, by rights, a plain, or unbittered, Sling is, “spirits of any kind, sugar, and water.” Same as a Toddy.
Further reading in early sources, Jerry Thomas, “Cocktail” Bill Boothby, and Harry Johnson, seems to indicate that generally, at least in late 19th Century bar parlance, the Sling was differentiated from the Toddy by the presence of a garnish. The is, a Toddy was generally served without a garnish, while a sling generally has nutmeg and/or citrus peel. Of course that is terribly amusing because no one today would serve a hot toddy without a garnish, and if you ordered a “Hot Sling” you’d probably get kicked out of the bar.
Anyway, I wasn’t feeling very Ginny last week, so I decided to spice things up a bit, after all the author does say, “Spirits of any kind,” with a little Tequila.
New World Sling
2 oz Charbay Tequila
1 teaspoon Caster (Or superfine) sugar
Splash of water
Big Ice Cube
Muddle Superfine sugar in water until it is dissolved. Add Big Ice Cube and pour in Tequila. Stir well and garnish with freshly grated Cinnamon. Squeeze Lemon Peel over drink and drop in.
Gosh that’s good. I swapped nutmeg out for cinnamon, as I know from the Promissory Note at Alembic Bar that Cinnamon has a good affinity for tequila.
When I wrote up the Toddy, a lot of people asked things like, “is there any reason to leave out the bitters and just make a Toddy?”
I’ll repeat myself, probably if you gave someone from the early 19th Century a Bourbon Old-Fashioned Cocktail, they would ask you, why on earth you are putting bitters in perfectly good booze.
And sure, you could add some bitters to this drink, and it probably wouldn’t hurt. But with a Tequila this good is it really necessary?
PS. If you're going to make a "Gin Sling", please do not use "Dry Gin", you'll regret it. Instead, use Genever. You will enjoy it immensely more.
Music was from Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cantuaria’s CD “Lagrimas Mexicanas”.
This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.