Cocktail Recipe – The Bittered Gin Sling
The Bittered Gin Sling Cocktail Recipe was one of the first in my cocktail education. It is a lesser known cousin of the Singapore Sling, a drink which had wide spread popularity from the late 1950′s through the mid 1970′s especially during warm weather months. Between the two, I much prefer the Bittered Gin Sling becuase it is less sweet and less complicated as it involves fewer ingredients. As we (hopefully) turn to warmer weather, I felt it a propros to begin to cast our gaze towards an appropriate Summer quaf worthy of a day sailing on your yacht or lounging by your backyard inflatible pool.
A sling is essentially a long drink that encorporates a shot of base liquor, vermouth, equal parts citrus juice to sweetening syrup, bitters and is topped with soda. As you can imagine by looking at this list, there are endless ways to riff off the basic recipe and create some truly unique concoctions. To instruct and inspire, let us brake these down a bit.
The Bittered Gin Sling Cocktail hails from the days when the majority of cocktails were made built upon the broad shoulders of rye whiskey or gin, with gin being the usual main star in this one. London Dry is also what is traditionally called for here. In that category, and as we are living in a gin renaissance, there are many to choose that will do well. For me, I love Hendricks in this application especially if I happen to over pour that 1 1/2 ounces. A 2 oz Hendricks Gin Sling is very nice. Others that work very well here are many and include No. 209, 3 Gin, Tanqueray, Bombay Dry is nice here, Aviation, Blue Coat and a bunch more. Try out your favorites and let me know what you think.
That said, without changing the rest of the recipe, just imagine what other base alcohols would play well here. Rum, either light or gold, works very well. Tequila (especially platas) and some Mezcals are excellent here as well. Cachacca just the same. With all of these, though, I might change the lemon juice to lime. All of those make perfect sense. Bourbon, blended Candian and Irish whiskeys all play quite well here with Rye a bit less. I have had success with Rittenhouse 100 in this beverage (have not yet tried it with Bulleit Rye which I love) but some Ryes are a bit too rough for this one.
Again, the sweet vermouth is an area where much play can be found especially with all the choices out there today. This is not the place, in my opinion for Carpano Formula Antica as its uniqeness gets lost in the ice and bubbles. Just use your favorite less than $40 a bottle sweet vermouth. Then try playing around a little bit. Any sweet aperitif has a chance of working here. Here is a small list that I think is interesting. Try Doubonnet red, Lillet Blanc, Cocchi Americano, even sweet Sherry is nice here. I, becoming ever bitter with age, enjoy a Sling with Amontillado Sherry. It is dry and woody with just a bit of sweetness creating a far more interesting beverage that is little like the original.
Citrus juice is pretty straight forward but, even here, I like to play around a bit. Again, call me Professor McBitterman, but I enjoy this recipe with bitter orange or non-pink grapefuit juice (only fresh squeezed). It is only a 1/2 ounce but has a profound effect on the drink. Play around with this one as the possibilities are endless. This is also an area where you can alter the drink to make it seasonal. Certain citrus ripen at slightly different times and you can change it up to match. You can also move away from citrus and into stone fruit for the mid Summer, berries in the late summer, Apples in the fall each time adjusting the syrup composition to match.
Simple syrup is obvious but other sling recipes call for Grenadine as a sweetener. Honey and agave nectar work well here too. For true mixological pretense try Mugolio pine syrup from Italy and pair it with any super bitter componoent (lemon juice, compari, etc.).
Lastly, topping off with soda is classic, but tonic water might be okay. To me, though, the soda is the one part of this drink I don’t really want to add flavor to the whole. I want it to be fairly straight forward. Tonic that is either too bitter or too sweet will dominate the finished product.
All that said, the Bittered Gin Sling Cocktail is one to know. A) it is tasty, B) it is easy to make, C) it is great for hot weather, and finally D) it is tasty. Let’s keep our eyes on what’s most important here.
If you start playing with this one, let me know what your crazier creations end up being.
Bittered Gin Sling Cocktail
1 1/2 oz Hendrick’s Gin
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
3 dashes Agnostura bitters
Soda to top off
Lemon peel, wheel or wedge
Combine the first five ingredients in an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake well to combine. Strain into an ice filled highball glass and top off with soda water. Garnish with lemon peel (ignore the picture, I was being foolish) and serve. Enjoy.