We were coming to the end of our second day in Singapore. After spending most of the day on Sentosa Island, walking around, we were quite tired, so wanted a quiet night. My friend that I was visiting Singapore with, had been told about the Raffles Hotel and the Singapore Sling Cocktail. We kept being told it was a must try, so we decided to go there for the evening, and see what the fuss was about.
The Raffles Hotel
Luckily, Raffles hotel was just down the road from our hostel, so we didn’t have to go far to get there. Straight away, we were aware we were in a 5 star hotel. It was definitely a lot different from our cheap hostel and what we were used to. We walked through the front entrance to the hotel, following the signs to ‘The Long Bar,’ which is where you go to try the Singapore Sling. The directions took us through the court garden of the hotel. We were glad we decided to dress up a little bit, rather than go in shorts and t-shirt, otherwise we’d of felt even more scruffy!
We got to the bar, to be greeted at the door by a waiter. We walked in to be shown to our seats, and I was instantly amazed by the bar. It was like some old 20s Gatsby themed bar, and the first thing you notice is the impressive fans on the ceiling. So far so good. The waiter showed us to some seats at the bar. We asked if we could sit at a table, as there were plenty free, to which he said “yes ,fine!” He shoved the menu into my hands and pointed to a table at the back of the room. We were a bit surprised, not the kind of treatment we were expecting from a 5 star hotel bar, that is world famous! We sat down, and it was then when we looked at the menu and saw just how expensive the Singapore Sling was. We were expecting it to be expensive, so we didn’t mind. It was around $30, which at the time was the equivalent of around 15 GBP. It’s certainly the most expensive cocktail I’ve ever had. But having been told it’s a must thing to try, we thought we might as well, while in Singapore!
Inside The Long Bar
The Singapore Sling, widely regarded as the national drink of the country, was first created in 1915 at the Long Bar in Raffles Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. It’s a gin based cocktail, with pineapple, lime juice, grenadine, cherry brandy and Cointreau. The Long Bar was a well known gathering place at the time, for the locals in the city. It was common to see men sat enjoying their gin or whiskey, but women were not allowed to consume alcohol in public. They had to have fruit juice or tea instead. Ngiam saw a niche in the market, and created The Singapore Sling, that looked like a fruit juice, but was in actual fact a gin based drink. Masking it in pink gave it a feminine flair and together with the use of clear alcohol, he cleverly led people into thinking it was a socially acceptable punch for the ladies. It became an instant hit, and obviously the cocktail became the national drink, and the Long Bar is a now a world famous bar.
I can safely say that at $30 a drink, the bar was no longer a gathering place for the locals. Everyone that was sat in the bar, were clearly tourists. 90% of the customers were British when we went. It’s the sort of place you go to experience it, try it once, then leave. You wouldn’t go back every night. It’s a nice bar to sit in, but at those prices, the drink was nothing special. And being a national drink, you can purchase the Singapore Sling in any bar in the city, for a lot less.
Something we noticed about the bar is that on every table, they have a bag of monkey nuts. We sat enjoying them, confused to where we had to leave our empty shells. We then noticed the waitress clearing the next table, just wiped them onto the floor. We then looked down and realised the floor was full of these empty shells. We hadn’t noticed when walking in, that we were walking all over them. We then asked our waiter, and he told us to just chuck them onto the floor. It was something we found quite bizarre!
The nuts on the floor
The bill came, and with service charges etc and the tax, a glass of Singapore Sling cost us around £18 each. We were asked if we’d like another, and we quickly said no! It was nice to go and see the bar, and see where the cocktail originated from, but if I were to go back to visit Singapore, I wouldn’t go back to experience it again. If you’re on a budget, go to another bar in the city. I had a look and the bar at the Marina Bay Sands would have been cheaper, and we would have had the view over the city. People weren’t kidding when they warned us you have to be t-total to live in Singapore, because alcohol is expensive!
It was our final night in Singapore, and tired from the day we had (and spent up), we headed back to our hostel for the evening, ready for our final day in Singapore.
To be continued…