The Tiger of Singapore

RafflesSingaporeAmong many concrete walls, steel and structural glass, the classic and flattened silhouette of the Raffles Hotel draws the attention of those strolling down Beach Road Street. What is a relic like this doing in a city-state whose flagship hotel is a complex of three skyscrapers crowned and linked by a panoramic pool that defies the basic laws of gravity? If it turns out the sea, when built, almost reached their rooms. And the street, denominated from the beach, received in its number 1 the new tourism tenant, in which Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad would tread.

In 1887, Singapore was still a British colony. The new hotel assembled a collection of 10 small bungalows by the sea, an unnamed paradise for the few merchants who ventured into these dangerous Malaysian waters. But that innate sense of Asian hospitality soon became a mecca of services. First came the famous Singapore Sling cocktail, created in 1915 by the bartender Ngiam Tong Boon, which attracted bar and clubroom parishioners very fast, including the so-called British writers.

Then came the glamour of cinema. Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne and Ava Gardner increased the fame of the hotel’s Long Bar. In the late twentieth century it was declared a national monument, and it would not be surprising if one day it gets proclaimed a World Heritage Site. Michael Jackson and the British royal family took it as theirs after the last remodeling, which returned it to the present, after going bankrupt in 1931. Leslie Danker, the hotel’s resident historian, has over 40 years of experience telling the world what happens behind its closed doors. Of course, with the utmost discretion.

In Raffles’ 103 suites are preserved the rich furniture of the imperial era and a luxurious collection of 700 Oriental rugs. The place is covered with exotic woods and lush vegetation, with paipay ventilation in the rooms and birds flying free over the facility. The last Singapore tiger was killed in 1902 from its balcony, an escaped circus exemplary who sought a hiding place in the hotel’s pool lounge. Oh, Sandokan!

SINGAPORE SLING RECIPE

40ml gin

■ 20ml blueberry liqueur

■ 5ml Cointreau

■ 5ml DOM Bénédictine

■ 10ml Grenadine

■ 80ml pineapple juice

■ 30ml lemon juice

■ 1 drop Angostura

Fernando Gallardo |

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