For many years now, I have promised myself that if visiting Singapore, I would visit the legendary Raffles Hotel. This historic property has long stirred my imagination so it was with great delight that I accepted a kind invitation to visit this all suite property located in the heart of the city – this year celebrating its 125th anniversary.
Echoes of the past were everywhere – old signage, still used, the 1991 restoration obviously sensitively done to display its fine heritage whilst sustaining the property to enter the future. Photographs of famous people were everywhere, for this is where you need to come to be seen, so it was not a huge surprise to spy a recent picture of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the hotel. I was evidently in august company and on my next trip to Singapore, I definitely need to include at least a night at this amazing property. My intent however on this occasion was to head for The Long Bar. I think you may guess what’s coming next!
Around 1900, The Long Bar’s first incarnation was known as the “Rendezvous of Planters” where the rubber and oil palm plantation owners from Malaya would slip into Singapore for some R&R, sitting at tables in order to view passing ladies. The moniker “The Long Bar” was coined when the bar was moved in 1921 to sit alongside the old Ballroom, running along the entire breadth of the venue – some 40 feet in length.
Its location has since moved several times and The Long Bar is now split over two stories, sited on Level 2 of the Raffles Hotel Arcade. The decor is decidedly (and most appropriately) Malayan plantation style, complete with bamboo fans decorating the ceiling, cane furnishings, tiled floors and lush greenery throughout.
Now no visit to Singapore can surely be said to be complete without ordering a Singapore Sling from the barman at The Long Bar – the hotel itself terms this necessary activity as “a true rite of passage of world travel” and I tend to agree.
This legendary hot pink cocktail was originally created in 1915 for the ladies – hence its colour – by Hainanese Chinese barman Ngiam Tong Boon. It also explains its sweetness too – as you might imagine from the ingredients:
30 ml of Gin / 15 ml of Cherry Brandy / 120 ml of Pineapple Juice / 15 ml of Lime Juice / 7.5 ml of Cointreau / 7.5 ml of Dom Benedictine / 10 ml of Grenadine / Dash of Angostura Bitters – garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry.
1,000 Singapore Slings are served by The Long Bar each day and if you love the cocktail, you can even buy a box of six mini-premixed bottles for SD50 from the hotel’s shop! To celebrate the 125th anniversary throughout 2013 however, why not treat yourself to the 1887, a subtle variation on the traditional sling devised by barman Randolf Velasco. It’s base? Why limited edition Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve champagne of course.
Oh – one last thing to mention – it’s obligatory to brush the shells of your accompanying peanuts off the table and the bar top onto the floor. It’s possibly the only place in Singapore where littering is positively encouraged and I have to admit, it felt sinful!
Contributor: Sue Lowry
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