345 Sixth Avenue, East Village
(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
Gin has had a hard row of it in San Diego — that’s according to Jason O’Bryan, one of the top barristers at the Asian fusion Gang Kitchen.
“You would think that the starting ingredient in a Tom Collins or a South Side, here in the land of endless summer, would recommend itself,” he tells me.
But Gang’s cocktail menu — designed to match its Asian-informed cuisine — is ginning up the juniper juice by bringing back an old standby — the Singapore Sling.
“The Singapore Sling didn’t catch on immediately,” O’Bryan admits, “but it’s got wheels underneath it now.”
A Tiki cocktail before there were Tiki cocktails, O’Bryan says, the Singapore Sling came to life at the Raffles Hotel in 1915 where American travelers were looking to add tropical color to their typical gin. Gang’s version, he adds, is a far cry from the degraded fugue of fruit juice and booze the drink had become in the ’70s.
“The first thing you get is the pineapple and cherry combined,” O’Bryan says. “It’s as fruity as classic cocktails ever get. Then with the Benedictine and Angostura Bitters, there’s a little note of spice that runs through it.”
Fresh pineapple juice is a must, O’Bryan insists — and citrus in the mix prevents the heavy curse most other juice drinks suffer.
“The lemon juice helps keep the drink from being cloying,” he says.
When all is said and slung, O’Bryan says, the excellence of Gang’s Sling comes from attending to the right ingredients in the right order and proportion, which makes it a good go-to to go with the eatery’s entrees.
“That sort of tropical sweetness goes well with Asian food,” he explains, “the same way that a Riesling goes traditionally well with Asian food. It’s a good fit.”
Gin and juice show mutual respect, while lemon, Heering, and bitters add a welcomed tart and dry spiciness.
How to make it:
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour:
- 1 oz. Beefeater Gin
- ½ oz. Cherry Heering
- ¼ oz. Cointreau
- ¼ oz. Benedictine Liqueur
- 1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
- 2.5 oz. Fresh pineapple juice
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake “with vigor” and strain over ice in a Collins glass, garnish with pineapple leaf and maraschino cherry, and sling it back in slow motion…