Singapore Sling gets a makeover

Singapore (CNN)Some drinks just don’t have staying power.

When, for example, was the time you heard shouts of “Another grasshopper over here!” or “Tom Collins and keep ’em coming!” above the din of a crowded bar?
Likewise, the appletini and Red Bull and vodka may require some explaining to future generations.
    The redoubtable Singapore Sling, however, is no such an ephemeral flake. The venerable gin-based cocktail said to have been invented at Raffles, Singapore in 1915 is marking its 100th anniversary this month … with a new twist.
    The original recipe is lost but the current one given by Raffles head barman Aaron Manzanillo is: gin (30ml), cherry brandy (15ml), Cointreau (7.5ml), DOM Benedictine (7.5ml), Angostura bitters (Dash), grenadine (10ml), pineapple juice (120ml) and lime juice (15ml). Shake well and strain into glasses filled with ice.
    The key ingredient is gin.
    That’s where Sam Galsworthy, the co-founder of Sipsmith artisan gin, comes in.

    The Galsworthy connection


    Instead, for its 2015 incarnation — called Raffles 1915 — Sipsmith incorporated spices and ingredients from Southeast Asia.
    The gin is inspired by the hotel’s location but is also a nod to Sir Stamford, who developed Singapore as a port for the spice trade and who had an avid interest in botany.
    He even cultivated spices on Government Hill, now Fort Canning in Singapore.
    Six botanicals that would have gone into an original London gin, and that go into every Sipsmith bottle, form the base of Raffles 1915: juniper, coriander, orris root, angelica, cinnamon and lemon peel.
    On top of that Sipsmith has added pomelo, lemongrass, jasmine, nutmeg, mace and clove.
    After some 40 variations, the Sipsmith team whittled down its recipes to two.
    These were sent to Turkey, where Raffles Hotel brass were attending a conference, for the final sampling.
    “It was the best part of the three days,” says Simon Hirst, general manager of Raffles Singapore. “There was one clear winner that had a unique freshness and brightness.”

    The ‘Raffles 1915’ gin

    Beginning in November, Raffles 1915 is available in Raffles outlets in Singapore and Paris.
    “It will be used in Singapore Slings but it’s not anchored to one specific drink,” says Galsworthy. “Gin is so versatile … I love it on the rocks or in a martini.”
    Galsworthy also suggests a garnish of one of the Southeast Asian ingredients such as lemongrass or pomelo.
    “I love crushed jasmine flowers in it,” he says. “Whichever you choose will really bring that ingredient to the fore.”
    By the end of the year the gin will be available in Raffles hotels in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Beijing and Hainan in China.
    All remaining Raffles properties will take delivery in 2016.
    “It’s definitely a long haul product,” says Hirst, nodding at Galsworthy. “I think we have our own copper still?”
    Galsworthy who confirms that, yes, “Patience” is exclusively dedicated to crafting Raffles 1915.
    “It’s one of those great opportunities where everything fell into place at the right time,” says Hirst.
    “This is a hotel that’s built on stories and this is the latest one.
    “It’s a match made in Singapore.”
    This article was originally published in 2015.

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