Saturday, October 18, 2008

Still on Cherry Heering

I tend to focus on a product when it comes through the mail, so I'm still harping on that old Cherry Heering.

The most famous Cherry Heering cocktail is the Singapore Sling. As I mentioned earlier, I never have pineapple juice about the house (though I had every other needed ingredient: gin, lime juice, Cointreau, grenadine, Benedictine, Angostura), so I had to look elsewhere for it.

Last Wednesday night, as I returned wearily to Brooklyn, I stopped in the Clover Club for a nightcap. "Can you make me a Singapore Sling?" I said, stepping up to the bar. "Yup," said the bartender without a moment's hesitation. This pleased me, and renewed my confidence in the bar staff at the Clover Club. A bartender I had never met before was dead certain he could make me what is, let's face it, an infrequently requested drink.

As I opened the cocktail menu, I noticed a bottle of Cherry Heering on the back bar with a pour spout stuck in it. Wow, I thought. You don't see that every day. Weird. I mean, are they pouring out the stuff all the time? Then all my assumptions flew out the window as I saw they have changed the menu recently, and the Singapore Sling was a new listed attraction, under a new category called "Tiki Drinks." No wonder my bartender was so confident.

So, he fixed me one. And it was OK. Not particularly memorable. And they served it in a clay Tiki mug. Why does no one adhere to Jerry Berry dictum that Tiki drink should be served in clear glasses so as to show off their often lovely coloring? Damn, I thought. I'm not crazy about this drink.

I didn't give up. A few days later I bought some pineapple and pureed it in my blender. It didn't become juice; it was much thicker than that. So I added some water. It became thinner, but was still not juice per se. But I liked the taste and the consistency, so I let it be. I assembled all the ingredients. I employed Martin Miller's gin, and my own homemade grenadine.

And the result was friggin' fantastic! A gorgeous color, a splendid density—not to thick, not to thin—and super flavorful. I gave one to the Wife and it knocked her off her feet. I love Clover Club, but I have to say—I made a better Singapore Sling than they did.

Anyway, it was a relief: I do like the drink.

UPDATE: I tried another recipe, from the B.A.R. manual, asking for less pineapple juice and no Grenadine, and topped with soda water. It was good, too, but I liked it less. I think the deletion of the Grenadine and the addition of soda diluted the flavor a bit. Purist, however, might term this more austere version as more authentic. The Singapore Sling seems to be one of those cocktails whose true recipe is hotly debated. These arguments can be very interesting. They also make me tired.

2 comments:

Stevi Deter said...

I was recently pointed to this Ted Haigh article on the Singapore Sling which has led me to try some of the more traditional "sling" style recipes and give up on the pineapple juice version. Although even more than the mai tai, I doubt you'll get much traction on getting people to accept that what they think is in the drink may not be in it.
That said, I quite like the modern Raffles Hotel version, which I make using organic pineapple juice cuz I'm too lazy to blend my own.

Robert Simonson said...

The recipe I used was out of the Museum of American Cocktail cocktail book—a museum that Ted Haigh helped found. So it seems he and the museum haven't quite given up on the pineapple version. But I'll take a look at that article.