It had to be done. It was so obvious. There we were in Singapore, Asia and staying in a hostel just 25 minutes walk from the world famous Raffles Hotel. The Raffles Hotel is possibly the most famous hotel in Asia. It began life in 1887 and was founded by the Armenian Sarkies brothers. Monarchs and celebrities have stayed there over the years, including Charlie Chaplin and John Lennon. It was hardly on the budget for Natalja and I to stay there, but to visit the hotel was a must. There is even a museum dedicated to the hotel itself. But the main reason for us going there was to try the world famous “Singapore Sling” cocktail, which was invented in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel.
On our first night we wanted to have the Singapore Sling, but unfortunately we didn’t realise the opening times of the Long Bar. It closes just after midnight on weekdays, even to residents. We were there on a Monday night. At weekends its open till 1 or 2 am, but we got there saw it was closed and had to walk away and come back the next day. It was nice to see the hotel at night. Lit up, elegant, exquisite and definitely above my budget. I’d stay in the cheap hostel over this hotel any day!
By day the hotel is a modern looking, clean building. We walked through the courtyard which is posh and flambouyant. Well dressed waiters, lobby men and general workers lurk on each corner greeting you and smiling. It is worthy of its Five Star Value. There are shops in the courtyard. The hotel is one of the world’s finest. The walk to the Long Bar is up on the first floor via some tidy corridors. And there it is…with a less than obvious entrance, nestled at the top of a staircase and balcony overlooking the gardens. The Long Bar.
The bar is dark, wooden and lonely. Traditional in design. Warm in character. VIbrant in personnel. Precise in customer service. It was some experience, I’m not sure how you can dress up simply “buying a drink” into an event quite so significant or splendid as I’m doing. But believe me, it was worth it. “Two Singapore Slings please” I muttered obviously to an eager barmaid. To her right, and my far left a keen barman prepares the cocktail. I’m still in awe of the surroundings. I’m still living a dream. Two placemats are placed in front of us, bearing the words “Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore.” This is the event that had to be done.
Within minutes, two over dressed and elaborate cocktails are placed in front of us. Bearing a straw, a cocktail stick, a pineapple slice and a cherry, the red cocktail looks every bit as impressive as in a photo or a preview. (In my Berlitz Singapore pocket guide, the Singapore Sling is identical to the one in the photo.) The liquid sits in a fancy glass. The glass is transparent, yet bears the words “Singapore Sling”, below that an image of a well dressed man and woman standing at a bar, and below that, in upper case writing it reads “RAFFLES HOTEL.” If ever you wanted another glass to your kitchen collection this was the time. But I’m a traveller. A light one. I don’t need a heavy suitcase. I resisted the thought of borrowing such a glass. We simply sat back, sucked on the straw, enjoyed the cocktail and savoured the moment.
The taste was fantastic. You almost wanted to drink it quicker. The alcohol was noticeable, but not strong. The sense of happinness in a drink was there to enjoy. The price was unimportant, it was priceless (in hard facts it was £14 British Pounds Sterling or 28 Singapore Dollars, however relevant or irrelevant that may be). We sipped them slowly, aware that this was a special drink and a one off moment. “Everybody else in here is also drinking a Singapore Sling” said Natalja. Exactly. This is why people were there. It had taken me 29 years to try the famous Singapore Sling. It was worth it and it was a one off. Within a moment it had come and gone. Soon we had sipped our last sip, left two fancy but empty glasses, but kept our coasters/beer mats for the memory. We tried the Singapore Sling! In the Long Bar! In Raffles Hotel! And boy was it good!
Bars Visited – The Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore City, Singapore.
Drinks Tried – Singapore Sling.
Price – 28 Singapore Dollars each (£14 each)
Ingredients of a Singapore Sling:
DRINKING SINGAPORE SLING:
THE NIGHT THE LONG BAR WAS CLOSED: