Singapore Sling Refreshed: Reviving an Old Cocktail for the Millennial

Singapore Sling is getting a new lease of life in the city of its birth, where mixologists are shaking it up to keep the cocktail relevant.

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The distinctive pink, gin-based drink, Singapore Sling, has long been a favourite with visitors to the colonial-era Raffles Hotel, where it is served in the historic Long Bar. The cocktail was first created in 1915 at the bar, which was a hangout for British colonialists and rubber planters visiting from neighbouring Malaya.

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Genteel Ladies to Millennials

At the time it was socially unacceptable for women to drink in public but the Singapore Sling—so colourful for the era that many believed it was fruit juice—gave them a chance to have a sneaky tipple and quickly became a hit.

A stalwart of cocktail menus and sometimes dubbed Singapore's national drink, Singapore Sling has in recent years struggled to capture the attention of a younger generation spoilt for choice with a buzzing bar scene offering everything from trendy craft beer to artisan vodka.

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New Look and Feel

The Long Bar recently reopened to the public after renovations—part of a broader overhaul of the entire hotel—and it was decided the cocktail, Singapore Sling, also needed a revamp. “We've taken away the sweetness from the original Singapore Sling and balanced the drink much better,” said Christian Westbeld, the Raffles Hotel's general manager. The cocktail is still made from the same recipe, including gin, cherry liqueur, pineapple juice and bitters, but uses superior ingredients which the creators say make it better suited to the modern palate.

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Tourist Trap

Creators hope the updated version will extend its appeal beyond visitors to Singapore's local and expat workforce. But in a recent trip, the bar was still packed primarily with tourists, many of whom were happy to sample the new version of the classic cocktail. British tourist Bridget Stevenson said: "Lovely texture and lovely drink, and I love the experience of being in here."

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