One of the three imposing doormen at the entrance to Raffles
Checking into Raffles is an uplifting experience. When you pull up the gravel driveway outside the white wedding cake of a hotel in the heart of Singapore, you’re greeted by a toweringly tall sikh doorman, bearded and turbaned and wearing an imposing sashed uniform. He ushers you into the lobby, all cool marble flooring and fluted columns that reach up three lofty storeys. There is none of the hubbub of other hotels – only guests or “residents” are allowed inside – so the atmosphere is reassuringly calm and rarified. To borrow from Holly Golightly, you feel as though nothing bad could ever happen at Raffles.
Raffles 1915 gin by Sipsmith
Take equal measures of quality and tradition, add a dash of modernity and a splash of serendipity, and you have the perfect recipe to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Raffles Hotel’s Singapore Sling.
The gin-based cocktail is said to have been invented at Raffles, Singapore by barman Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915. By chance Sam Galsworthy, the co-founder of Sipsmith artisan gin, visited the iconic hotel and requested a meeting with the F&B director the year before the landmark anniversary. And Galsworthy happens to be a descendant of Sir Stamford Raffles – the British statesman who founded Singapore and after whom the hotel was named.
Singapore Sling at The Long Bar, Raffles, Singapore
[UPDATE Raffles Singapore is marking the temporary closure of the Long Bar for refurb by inviting three award winning mixologists from Singapore cocktail bars to create their version of the Singapore Sling. From Feb 10th – 12th 2017.]
In the same year that Singapore is commemorating its 50th anniversary of independence, the city-state’s national drink is also toasting a significant birthday. 2015 marks 100 years of the Singapore Sling, the cocktail created by a Chinese bartender. Or it does according to one theory.
Singapore institution Raffles Hotel is celebrating the centenary of the pink concoction, claiming it was created at the hotel in 1915 by barman Ngiam Tong Boon, originally from Hainan. Peter Heering the maker of Heering Cherry Liqueur – a vital ingredient of the Singapore Sling – is also commemorating the cocktail’s 100th this year.
The story has been repeated in articles and books around the world and become cocktail folklore but not everyone agrees.