SLINGIN’ IT IN BERLIN


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.

David Wondrich, mixologist (ital) non pareil (end ital), who lectured in Berlin today on the history of the Singapore Sling
David Wondrich, mixologist non pareil, who lectured in Berlin today on the history 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.”

The hipster crowd at mixology conferences is (ital) very different (end ital) from the more staid crowd at wine conferences
The hipster crowd at mixology conferences is very different from the more staid crowd at wine conferences

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.

A few of the dynamic Sling contestants, preparing samples of their drinks for the crowd in Berlin
A few of the dynamic Sling contestants, preparing samples of their drinks for the crowd in Berlin

Here are the five contestants, where they’re from, and the Sling variant each one has created:

Aron Christian Manzanillo
Singapore
Fables of the East

Taoufike Zafri
Montreal
The Bittered Sling

John Kraus
New York City
Pepito’s Slingshot

Sigrid Sarv
Estonia
O’ Polo Sling

Nick Kobbernagel Hovind
Copenhagen
The Sloe Sling