A visit to Singapore isn’t complete without posh cocktails at Raffles Hotel. The most famous, of course, is the Singapore Sling. However the bar staff have just come up with a slew of new ones: British India, The Stray Tiger, Fables of the East and Rose & Rickey. More about them soon. Meanwhile, I promise not to be boring.
Raffles Hotel is named after Singapore’s British founder, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles. It was established by two Armenian brothers from Persia in 1887. The hotel started with 10 bungalow style rooms. The Singapore Sling cocktail was invented in the hotel’s Long Bar, and The Tiffin Room is Singapore’s oldest restaurant. Room prices start at $S690 ($A588).
The world’s literati have stayed here, including Ernest Hemingway and Somerset Maugham. The lower floors now contain shopping arcades stocking Tiffany & Co and Louis Vuitton. On the afternoon I visit, they are mournfully empty, although the Raffles Courtyard bar is humming with customers. The third floor of the arcade houses the Raffles Hotel Museum. Declared a National Monument in 1987, Raffles remains the jewel in the crown of Singapore hotels.
Raffles has other hotels – Cambodia, China, Dubai, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, and most recently the company opened in Istanbul. The Tiffin Room (pictured below) is the most famous place in Singapore to partake afternoon tea, that famous frightfully British tradition invented by the Duchess of Bedford. It roughly coincided with the invention of the sandwich by the Earl of Sandwich. In her case, it was the meal that satisfied appetites after lunch and before supper served later in the evening. In his case it was so he didn’t have to move his butt from the gambling table when he got hungry.
However famous The Tiffin Room is, it has mixed reviews, including many on TripAdvisor. It also has serious afternoon tea competition from SweetSpot at Marina Bay Sands, The Tea Lounge at The Regent, and Swissotel, The Stamford (see list at the bottom of the post for details).
Back to the drinks! Raffles Singapore has created the Timeline Cocktails Menu to mark moments in its long, rich and varied history. The cocktails start from $S27 ($A23) and are available in the Long Bar and Raffles Courtyard.
Posh cocktails at Raffles Hotel
- Fables of the East pays homage to Somerset Maugham’s first visit to the hotel in 1921, when he gave permission for the hotel to use his famous quotation, “Raffles stands for all the fables of the exotic East”. The cocktail is an exciting combination of Ron Zacapa 23 years, St. Germaine, Passion Fruit Puree, Fresh Calamansi Juice and Chamomile Syrup.
- The Stray Tiger – marks the rumour that a tiger was shot under the billiard table in the hotel’s Bar & Billiard Room in 1902. The truth is that it was shot under the actual Bar & Billiard building. The Stray Tiger embodies the excitement of this pioneering time in Singapore and is a layered cocktail with White Rum, Cointreau, Vermouth, Fresh Lime Juice, Absinthe and Lemongrass foam.
- The Barefoot Contessa – in celebration of the Asian premiere of Ava Gardner’s film, this fruity cocktail is layered with Vodka, Gula Melaka, Lime Juice Calamansi, Ginger Juice and Apple Juice.
- Other cocktails include: British India (for the British officers that travelled to Singapore in the 1880s); Tiffing (embodying the launch of the Tiffin Curry, which has been served daily at Raffles Singapore since 1899); Cad’s Alley (for the cocktail parties held at Raffles Singapore’s Cad’s Alley); Rose & Rickey (a classic drink that was on the hotel’s cocktail list in 1935); Syonan Ryokan (heralding the 1940’s era); Pretty Polly (inspired by the 1967 film “A Matter of Innocence”); Writer’s Revelry (in tribute to the literary luminaires who have become a part of the Raffles Singapore legend) and Moodique (in celebration of Long Bar’s celebrated live band).
- The traditional Singapore Sling: 60ml Gin, 30ml Cherry Brandy, 15ml Cointreau, 15ml Benedictine, 250ml chilled pineapple juice, 1 tblsp fresh lime juice, dash of Angastora Bitters, crushed ice, pineapple sliver and maraschino cherry to serve. It’s too sweet for me, but I had to have two, to make sure I really didn’t like it. Someone has just commented it looks like a carrot in a glass. Next time I’ll give The Barefoot Contessa a whirl. That’s more my style.
Other Cool Singapore Hotels
Afternoon tea and high tea delights
- Afternoon tea served daily 3.30-5.30pm, from $S55. The Tiffin Room at Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road, Singapore. +65 6337 1886
- High tea buffet served daily 3.30-5pm, from $S43. Equinox Restaurant at Swissotel the Stamford, 2 Stamford Road, Singapore. +65 6837 3322
- High tea buffet served noon-5pm Mon-Fri, 1.30-5.30pm Sat-Sun, from $S44. The Tea Lounge at the Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road, Singapore. +65 6733 8888
- Open daily 7am-10pm. SweetSpot at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore. +65 6688 8868