It is early evening in Berlin. I arrived in Germany this morning from New York on a mission: to find the world’s reigning mixology genius when it comes to the Singapore Sling. And by mid-evening New York time, the world will know!
I have been at the annual Berlin Bar Show all day, “warming up” my palate. It is an extraordinary collection of bar products from all over the world: drinks, mixers, bar accessories, etc. But the highlight of my day was the 3:30 PM talk that paved the way for tonight’s Singapore Sling contest, which is sponsored by Peter Heering, the Danish company that since 1818 has been producing Heering Cherry Liqueur, an essential ingredient of the Singapore Sling.
The 3:30 talk was given by David Wondrich, the rock star of all contemporary mixology rock stars. He presented a compelling history of the Singapore Sling, finding its roots in old English “punches,” then on to American “slings” of the19th century, then on to the variations devised in Singapore in the early 1900s which became known as the Singapore Sling.
Wondrich’s thesis was a wonderful set-up for tonight’s contest. He told us that gin and cherry liqueur are the two absolutes of a Singapore Sling…but went on to point out that because there is such variety in Singapore Slings, it is “really a class of drinks rather than one drink.”
Perfect. Because here’s what the Peter Heering company did in advance of tonight’s contest: they spent the year looking for brilliant new Singapore Slings that fit within the “class.” Their international panel considered over 1000 drinks, devised by leading mixologists from 44 countries. Then they selected the top five Singapore Slings…and brought all of the creators to Berlin today, so they could sling ‘em at a panel of judges tonight. I am proud to be one of those judges…and I am confident that by 7PM EST tonight, we will have found the best damn Singapore Sling in the world today. Make that the universe.
Here are the five contestants, where they’re from, and the Sling variant each one has created:
Aron Christian Manzanillo
Fables of the East
The Bittered Sling
New York City
O’ Polo Sling
Nick Kobbernagel Hovind
The Sloe Sling