Singapore Sling

Heatwave!!! That’s right – its heatwave time in the Bay Area.  In most parts of the country, the tail end of summer means hot, muggy days that fade into what seem like even hotter, muggier (and sleepless) nights.  For us NorCal folks, August means Fog-hust – weeks on end of waking up to bone-chilling, “marine layer” fog completely blocking out the sun until a small break of blue skies for a few hours in the afternoon, after which more freezing fog rolls in shortly before sundown.  While its always worth a cheap thrill watching the tourists in their shorts and sandals stumbling around almost as cluelesly out of sorts as Beatty and Hoffman in Ishtar, I’d rather have the sunshine.

Just when you don’t think you can deal with one more morning of “I moved to California for this?”, a short-term heatwave rolls in to barrel out the fog and kick the temperatures up 20 degrees.  Perfect weather for an old-school cooler.  Most of what we can say about the Singapore Sling is that it was invented at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore in 1915, a hangout for folks like Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, and Noel Coward.  Beyond that, the history of the drink, including the original recipe, gets rather muddy.  Which of course means that it was the perfect topic of research for drink nerds seeking to unearth the origins of this famous drink.  The end result of the geekery was to find that the original drink was likely a far drier, less fruity, more bracing drink.  Quite tasty on its own accord, but far different from what modern drinkers associated with the Singapore Sling such as to require giving it a new name.  But that’s a horse – or blog post – of a different color.

More important than the history, is whether the recipe tastes good.  As the original recipe was lost in a bar on the other side of the globe in a time when the British ruled the world and not just a small section of the cable dial, numerous recipes have worn the title “Singapore Sling”.  While they all generally include gin, cherry brandy, and benedictine as jumping off points, it often goes downhill from there.  These are not one of those recipes.  The first is by the King of Cocktail Dale Degroff, the man possibly more responsible than any other single individual for rescuing the cocktail from the basement of cheap booze, artificial sour mix and stuff shot out of a bar gun.  The second is by Beachbum Berry, a professional drinker who has managed the feat of creating a career out of unearthing and resurrecting the original tiki recipes of Donn Beach, Trader Vic and others.  Both are fantastic – so don’t just stop at one!

1-1/2 ounces gin.
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
1/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
2 dashes grenadine
club soda

Combine with ice and shake well. Strain into a tall wine glass or Collins glass over ice, and top with club soda. Garnish with an orange-cherry flag.

Recipe courtesy of Dale DeGroff

2 ounces gin.
1/2 ounce brandy
1 ounce Cherry Heering
1/2 ounce Benedictine
1 ounce fresh lime juice
club soda

Recipe courtesy of Beachbum Berry

Ramos Gin Fizz

Lazy Sunday Easter brunches – or any Sunday brunch for that matter – are made for a “morning after” that combines fruit juice, egg, cream and a little of the hair of the dog all in one easy to down combo.  Add some fizz on top and you are in total heaven.  This classic was invented in New Orleans in 1888 by one Henry C. Ramos, who kept the recipe secret until Prohibition, at which time he gave this treat to the world lest it be lost forever.

At the heyday of its popularity in the times when men wore handlebar moustaches unironically, Henry Ramos would employ a team of over thirty shaker boys during Carnival just to keep up with demand  for this drink alone.  The Kingfish himself would bring along a New Orleans bartender with him to New York to train bartenders how to make the drink just so he could have his favorite fizz whenever he was in Manhattan.  Not surprisingly then, this luscious drink has survived in spite of its long list of ingredients and the amount of time needed to make one.  Which is why its perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon…

Ramos Gin Fizz

1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. cream
1 egg white
3 or 4 drops orange flower water
1 Tbs. simple syrup
soda water, to top

Shake all ingredients except soda water DRY until emulsified – this will take a minute or two.  Add ice and shake until cold.  Strain into tall glass and top with soda water.  For an extra decadent twist, add a few drops of good vanilla extract.  The consistency of this drink should be very thick and foamy – which will require a LOT of shaking.  Traditionalists claim shake times of upwards of 12 minutes.    This is far too insane an amount of time for a drink – I think the dry shake to emulsify works just fine.  You can also use an electric hand mixer.

Lavender Ginger Collins

2 oz. Gin*
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. lavender syrup
fresh grated ginger (a small piece)

Shake with ice and strain into ice filled collins glass. Top with seltzer. Garnish with lemon spiral.

I used Bombay Original Dry for this one – its a nice mixing gin with strong citrus tones.

Lavender Ginger Collins