Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Dire Straits...

Now first things first, I haven’t blogged for a while...nearly two years to be exact and its not like Ive not wanted to...Its just like going to the dentist...I know I have to do it but I just keep putting it off until it becomes too annoying to ignore...Well this time my proverbial “toothache” is over the origins of the name of a fantastic drink...The Straits Sling...

My original curiosity towards the name of this classic libation came whilst holding a tasting session at the bar in which I currently work...The Head bartender (so as not to publish names I will refer to him as Mr. Mendoza) asked me if I knew the origin of the word "Strait."

My reply was based on an assumption (and a fairly good knowledge of the English language) that "Strait" would refer to the old cartographers way of describing a narrow channel of water commonly used for shipping routes and less often but more exciting, as "Aquatic Battlefields."

So, to confirm my assumption I logged onto Google Maps, searched for Singapore and sure enough you can clearly see the "Singapore Strait," a stretch of water located south of the city. My theory was somewhat proven, that the drink must have been named after this famous channel of water...Until today...

I was doing some research this morning and came across an article that I haven’t read for a while, named "The Origins of the Singapore Sling; Some Facts, Some Fancies." written by one of my favourite modern day sources of information, Ted Haigh aka. Dr Cocktail...The article basically points out that there was a fair amount of confusion towards the original recipes of both the Straits and the Singapore Slings at the time due to similar ingredients and then the Straits Sling being recorded as a punch later on and seemingly replaced by the Singapore Sling to the point where a Straits Sling was almost unheard of after 1936...anyways, I’m getting carried away...

My main point of interest was in a small sentence that read:

The current-day Raffles Hotel offers a recipe which they describe, in public literature they produce, this way:

“Originally the Singapore Sling was meant as a woman’s drink, hence the attractive pink colour. Today, it is very definitely a drink enjoyed by all, without which any visit to Raffles Hotel is incomplete.

Now by saying “Originally” do they mean the Straits, or Singapore Sling..?

I ask because I found this alternative definition of the word “Strait” whilst browsing earlier:

STRAIT LACED: This phrase was originally STRAIT laces. The old English word strait meant tight or narrow. In Georgian times, laces were used to hold clothes together. If a woman was STRAIT laced she was prim and proper...

This would tie in with the history due to it being, at the time, British Colonial Singapore and especially the Raffles connection due to Stamford Raffles being the founder of both the city and the hotel...and the drink allegedly being a “Ladies drink.”

So my question may seem trivial to you, but my confusion is this:

What exactly is the Straits Sling named after..?

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