Singapore Sling

Singapore Sling
The Juice of 1/4 Lemon,
1/4 Dry Gin.
1/2 Cherry Brandy.
Shake well and strain into medium size glass, and fill with soda water. Add 1 lump of ice.

A lot of people get hung up on the Singapore Sling.

A famous drink from the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, so many people have written about it over the years, that I’m not sure there is anything to say.

The original recipe was secret and somehow lost. Eventually it was claimed found again by an ancestor of the barman who invented it, blah blah blah… Sounds like a made up story to me.

The drink the Raffles Hotel now serves after re-discovering the recipe is, reportedly, to most modern tastes, far too sweet and rather pink looking and artificial tasting.

So I think the response that people get, when they come across the Savoy recipe above is, “Uh, nope, I’m not going to make that, it sounds disgustingly sweet.” Well, right, that’s true, this does sound rather ridiculously sweet, and I’ve made it before to that exact spec, and I’m not doing it again. Tastes like vaguely medicinal fizzy cherry soda.

First off, there’s a red herring. Ahem. Or perhaps a Cherry Heering. Hoho.

Anyway, when confronted with this recipe, a lot of people grasp on to the idea of, “Cherry Brandy,” thinking perhaps that some confused editor, or author, meant to write, “Kirsch,” or “Cherry Eau-de-Vie” instead of Cherry Brandy, which is universally the cocktail recipe shorthand for Cherry Liqueur. And by subbing in Kirsch, they’ll be able to rescue the recipe from its syrupy origins.

One mixologist, in particular, Robert Vermeire, muddied the water by calling for, “Dry Cherry Brandy,” in his book, “Cocktails: How to Mix Them” (originally published 1922).

Straits Sling

The well-known Singapore drink, thoroughly iced and shaken, contains:

2 dashes Orange Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
The juice of half a lemon
1/8 Gill of Benedictine
1/8 Gill of Dry Cherry Brandy
1/2 Gill of Gin

Pour into a tumbler and fill up with cold soda water.

“O ho!” you say, “I have an excuse to use Kirsch in this recipe! This might not be so sweet after all!”

Well, the bad news is, lots of liqueurs are called “Dry”, which does not mean they are Eau-de-Vies. Triple SEC springs immediately to mind. In fact, speaking of Orange Liqueurs, the Bols Company, to this very day, calls their Orange Curacao, “Dry Orange Curacao,” in Europe. Oh, hm, a Dutch Liqueur Company, a recipe in Singapore at a Colonial hotel, what are the chances, Bols might have marketed its Cherry Liqueur in the past as “Dry Cherry Brandy”?

I will also add, Mr. Robert Vermeire, elsewhere in his book actually calls specifically for “Kirsch” when he means Cherry Eau-de-Vie, not “Dry Cherry Brandy”, for example, in the recipe for the “Pollchinelle or Cassis-Kirsch” in the “French Aperitifs” section of his book.

(Hat Tip to Mr. David Wondrich, for reminding me about Bols’ use of the word “Dry” in their liqueur line. You’d think I would remember, having used their Dry Orange Curacao about a million times. Duh. I believe Mr. Wondrich should have a far more well written and informative article on the subject of Slings coming out some time soon.)

And, uh, maybe you didn’t notice, but if you leave out the Cherry Liqueur entirely, this recipe has no sweetener at all, basically a Dry Gin and Kirsch highball with a dash of lemon. You give that a try and let me know what you think. I’ve have tried that version, and while perhaps nominally more appealing than the Fizzy Cherry Soda version, it’s not one of those drinks that jumps out as something that would have mass appeal, nor that I am going to make again.

Anyway, a secret recipe and a questionable reinvention means, well, it means, everyone will make up their own version.

Things that are indisputable: It has Gin, it has Citrus, and it has “Cherry Brandy”, (however you interpret that,) and it is served in a tall glass.

Erik Adkins put the Singapore Sling on the Slanted Door menu a while ago, and it has been a staple of that restaurant’s cocktail menu ever since. He based his recipe on one he got from the Rainbow Room in New York City, which, it turns out, was adapted by Dale DeGroff from something he was faxed by the Raffles Hotel.

I had some business to take care of with Jennifer Colliau, in preparation for the next Savoy Night, so I figured, what better place to stop for a Singapore Sling? I mean, aside from the Rainbow Room or Raffles Hotel.

Slanted Door Singapore Sling
1 1/2 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Sling Business*
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
2 Dash Angostura bitters

Shake and pour into a Delmonico glass. Garnish with a cherry on a lime raft.

*Sling Business is a mixture of 1/2 Cherry Heering, 1/4 Benedictine, and 1/4 Cointreau. If mixing this recipe for yourself it would be, 1/2 oz Heering, 1/4 oz Benedictine, and 1/4 oz Cointreau per drink.

Among other things that The Slanted Door might have in advantage over the Rainbow Room or Raffles Hotel, is that they are currently experimenting with using fresh squeezed pineapple juice. This not only tastes fantastic in a Singapore Sling, way better than canned, but you can also see gives the drink a great, light foam at the top.

What do I think is the right recipe?

Honestly, I don’t know. The pineapple version served by the Slanted Door is a great drink. Even at its most basic, the Singapore Sling is a Tom Collins sweetened with Cherry Heering, which isn’t really bad, as long as you take a generous hand with the citrus.

The moral of the story, if there is one? If you keep the recipe for your cocktail secret, there’s a chance that everyone will make it wrong. FOREVER. And even if the right recipe eventually turns up, some people may never believe it.

It’s hard enough for most people to make cocktail recipes the way their creators intended, even if the recipe is known.

Heck, I’m still trying to get that version of the Last Word I saw with Midori instead of Green Chartreuse out of my mind…

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.

XYZ Cocktail

X.Y.Z. Cocktail
1/4 Lemon Juice. (3/4 oz Lemon Juice)
1/4 Cointreau. (3/4 oz Clement Creole Shrubb)
1/2 Bacardi Rum. (1 1/2 oz Solomon Tournour Rene Alambic Rum)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

A daisy? A daiquiri with Orange Liqueur?

In any case, I am happy to report this combination, is pleasantly dry, even with the Creole Shrubb standing in for Cointreau (no open bottles convenient).

The Rum, I suppose, is a bit of a stretch from Bacardi, of any decade, or century. Well, what are you going to do? Until I find a Dry Cuban Style Rum I actually like, rather than just tolerate, I shall feel free to improvise.

Banks 5 Island? Why not? Smoke ’em if you got ’em!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

White Lily Cocktail

White Lily Cocktail
1/3 Cointreau. (3/4 oz Cointreau)
1/3 Bacardi Rum. (3/4 oz Barbancourt White)
1/3 Gin. (3/4 oz Miller’s Gin)
1 Dash Absinthe. (dash Absinthe Duplais Verte)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I normally don’t enjoy drinks from Judge Jr.’s 1927 book, “Here’s How”, but I found the White Lily strangely interesting.

There is just something fascinating about the combination of Barbancourt White Rhum, Orange, Miller’s Gin, and Absinthe.

However, I suppose I am cheating slightly by using a rum like Barbancourt instead of a Dry Cuban Style Rum. Even being a fairly mild agricole-ish rum, Barbancourt brings a lot more to the party than the average Molasses based white rum. So sue me.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

White Lady Cocktail

White Lady Cocktail
1/4 Lemon Juice. (3/4 oz Lemon Juice)
1/4 Cointreau. (1/2 oz Cointreau, Shy 1/2 oz Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup)
1/2 Dry Gin . (1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Ostensibly one of the most famous Savoy Cocktails, this was even sold as a bottled cocktail during the early years of the century:

Let’s talk a bit, first, about mixing Citrus Based Cocktails.

First off, a lot of times, it can be hard to balance a cocktail with only a liqueur as a sweetener. So, I sometimes hedge my bets by substituting in a portion of simple syrup for the liqueur. Reducing the amount of liqueur also puts the primary spirit of the cocktail in clearer focus, than using entirely liqueur.

This works really well in a Margarita, or its Gin cousin here, the White Lady.

The other element is the balance between sour and sweet elements of the cocktail. I find my preference is for slightly more sweetener than sour, of course depending on the sweetening power of the sweet element, syrup or liqueur. But if I’m using a 1-1 simple syrup, something like 3/4 ounce lemon or lime to 1 oz simple, or 1/2 oz liqueur and 1/2 oz Simple, works for me.

It’s worth noting, aside from the concentration of the syrup, that not all liqueurs or sweeteners have the same perceived sweetening powers. For example, the very popular Agave Syrup has much more perceived sweetness than even a very concentrated Sugar Syrup.  With a cocktail with 3/4 oz lemon or lime, you will probably not need more than a half ounce of Agave Syrup to balance the tartness of that cocktail.

From the other direction, some liqueurs or fruit syrups may contain a tart element which will reduce their sweetening efficacy in a cocktail. Depending, you may need to increase the amount of sweetener in the cocktail to balance out the cocktail.

Also, sometimes it is fun to change up the spirit to sweetener ratio.

Especially, if you have a particularly nice spirit, say Tequila or Brandy, it can be interesting to reduce both the tart and sweetening elements of the cocktail.

For example, with a tasty Calvados or Reposado Tequila, I would probably use 2 oz and spirits and only 1/2 oz of lime and a bit more than 1/2 oz of sweetener.  This puts the spirit first and foremost in the cocktails taste.  For example, during a recent event a friend and I made Jack Roses with exactly with that ratio: 2 oz Groult Calvados Reserve, 1/2 oz Lime Juice, 1/2 oz Grenadine. They were fantastic.

On the other hand, making the Jack Rose with Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, I would absolutely go with 1 1/2 oz Spirit, 3/4 oz Lemon, 1/2 oz 1-1 Simple Syrup, and 1/2 oz Grenadine.

Also, some spirits are quite a bit sweeter than others, especially those where sweetener is allowed by the class definition: Rum, Gin, Blended Whiskey, etc. You may not need as much sweetener when making a Rum or Gin Sour, depending on the brand or style of Spirit.

The character of the citrus you are mixing with, can also be a big element when deciding how to balance your cocktail.

It was interesting, I recently worked an event organized by an East Coast Mixologist. He had made drinks for the same event in NY. However, when he batched the drinks on the West Coast using the same recipes he remarked to me, “Damn your bright, tart, West Coast citrus juice, it is messing up my batch recipes.”

Harry Craddock’s Simple Gin Sour sweetened with Cointreau was not the first cocktail with this name.

The other Harry, McElhone, first published a cocktail with this name in his book, “Harry’s ABC of Cocktails”:

White Lady
1/6 Brandy
1/6 Creme de Menthe
2/3 Cointreau
Shake well and strain.

However, for some reason, Craddock’s sour is the one we think of when we mix a White Lady, rather than McElhone’s Cointreau and Creme de Menthe based drink.

Go figure…

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

White Baby Cocktail

White Baby cocktail
1/2 Gin. (1 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin)
1/4 Cointreau. (1/2 oz Cointreau)
1/4 Sirop-de-Citron (1/2 oz Homemade Sirop-de-Citron)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

There’s a quote in the Savoy Cocktail Book that goes with this cocktail, but I think it best for all of us, if I will leave it to your enterprising fingers to search out.

I used the Ransom to provide a couple more layers of character along with the citrus elements.

With the Ransom and homemeade Sirop-de-Citron this doesn’t have bad flavor at all, but really could have used a bit of lemon juice to spruce it up.

It’s just too sweet as it is, a liquid lemon life saver.

Might be good warm, if you have a cold or sore throat, otherwise, add a dash of fresh lemon juice.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Ulanda Cocktail

Ulanda Cocktail
1 Dash Absinthe. (1 Dash Lucid Absinthe)
1/3 Cointreau. (3/4 oz Cointreau)
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Martin Miller’s Gin)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

Sweet, and all 80 Proof Spirits and Liqueurs, the Ulanda is a bit of a dangerous proposition.

Probably more of the “knock your date out with booze” school of drink making, like the Between the Sheets, the Ulanda doesn’t really have a lot to recommend it beyond being strong.

It looks like the word Ulanda is either someone’s first name or refers to, “an administrative ward in the Iringa Rural district of the Iringa Region of Tanzania.”  I dunno, I’m guessing maybe first name.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sweet Patootie Cocktail

Sweet Patootie Cocktail
1/4 Orange Juice. (1/2 oz Orange Juice)
1/4 Cointreau. (1/2 oz Cointreau)
1/2 Dry Gin. (1 oz Ransom Old Tom)
(1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Hm, how did that Angostura Bitters get in there? Weird. Sometimes I go through my notes about the cocktails and kind of wonder what I was thinking! Well, I do prefer an Income Tax to a Brooklyn, (Err, I mean Bronx!, thanks Matt,) and oranges were undoubtedly smaller and probably more bitter before modern super market breeding took over. Even possible vintage Cointreau was a bit different in character.

In regards Ransom, well, I am curious about using it in different contexts, and, well, I find most dry gin cocktails which call for orange juice a bit boring on their own.

However, aside from a goofy name, this slightly more elaborate relative of the Orange Blossom doesn’t have a whole lot to recommend it.  Maybe if you were to use a bitter or esoteric variety of orange.  Tangerine?  With Navels or Valencias, there just isn’t a whole lot here.  The Ransom Old Tom ups the interest factor a bit, and is fairly tasty, but not quite enough to make this a slam dunk.

Very single notedly Orange.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sunrise Cocktail

Sunrise Cocktail
1/4 Grenadine. (1/3 oz Small Hand Foods Grenadine)
1/4 Crème de Violette. (1/3 oz Benoit-Serres Liqueur de Violette)
1/4 Yellow Chartreuse. (1/3 oz Yellow Chartreuse)
1/4 Cointreau. (1/3 oz Cointreau)
Use liqueur glass and pour ingredients in carefully so that they do not mix.

Odd to have two Pousse Cafe style cocktails so close together.

I tried to pour this in the order given, only to discover that the Yellow Chartreuse preferred to be under the Liqueur de Violette. Well, if you pour these things steadily and slowly enough, they usually self correct.

Can’t say that there is anything in particular to recommend this combination, other than maybe that the orange of the Cointreau and the Violette of the Benoit-Serres are a pretty interesting combo.

Other than that, it’s just a pretty drink, even if it is slightly out of order.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sidecar Cocktail


Sidecar Cocktail
1/4 Lemon Juice. (1/2 oz Lemon Juice)
1/4 Cointreau. (1/2 oz Cointreau)
1/2 Brandy. (1 oz Germain-Robin Fine Alambic Brandy)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

In his book, “Cocktails: How to Mix Them,” Robert Vermeire notes, “This cocktail is very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bar-tender of Buck’s Club.”

There are numerous stories about who created the Sidecar, as far as I know none have been truly substantiated. It is also a cocktail which has evolved significantly over the years.

The earliest versions of the recipe are equal parts cocktails, that is 1/3 Cognac, 1/3 Lemon, 1/3 Cointreau. In the Savoy Cocktail Book, we see that evolve to two parts Cognac to 1 part each of Lemon and Cointreau. In the 1940s, David Embury would further dry it out, proposing a ratio of 8 parts booze, 2 parts lemon, and 1 part Cointreau. Modern drink mixers often go with something like 4 parts booze, 1 part Lemon, and 1 part Cointreau.

Personally, I like the Savoy version, it’s nicely light and tart. Though I tend to like just a touch more Cointreau than lemon.

The Sidecar is a great gateway cocktail and a good test of a bar or bartender. Do they use fresh juice or sour mix? Is the cocktail balanced? Too sweet? Too sour?

Hint: If you’re using Sour Mix, for some inexplicable reason, reduce or eliminate the Cointreau.

The Sidecar Cocktail often sports a sugar rim. I’m kind of unclear why or whom started that treatment, as none of the earliest sources for the recipe are frosted with sugar. I don’t really see the need, as the cocktail should be well balanced without it. Maybe, if you are making a particularly dry and Embury-esque version of the drink, I could see it. Otherwise, skip the sticky sugar rim.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Sherry Twist Cocktail (No. 2)


Sherry Twist Cocktail (No. 2)

(6 People)

Take the juice of 1 Orange (1/2 oz Orange Juice), 2 glasses of Whisky (1 oz Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey), 2 1/2 glasses of Sherry (1 1/2 oz Williams Humbert Dry Sack) and 1/2 glass of Cointreau (1/4 oz Cointreau). Add two cloves (bare drop clove oil), squeeze in the juice of 1/4 lemon (1/4 oz Lemon Juice), and add half a turn of the pepper-mill (pinch cayenne pepper). Fill the shaker with cracked ice. Shake and serve.

And you thought Sherry Twist (No. 1) was weird! I found a recipe for this one in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s “Official Mixer’s Manual” which called for “a little cayenne”, instead of the black pepper in the Savoy drink. As Duffy is usually a more accurate transcriber of other’s recipes, I went with his recommendation. Also, my cloves are kind of old and tired, so I went with a touch of clove oil instead.

A similar cocktail to Sherry Twist (No. 1), this is also a sort of spiced Sherry punch for 1. It is also fairly similar in character, on the light side with a mild acidity and not much sweetness. The Cayenne gives it a little prickliness. Not sure which I preferred, perhaps No. 1, as it is a bit less complex. Still, No. 2 isn’t bad either, and both are fairly unique.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.