Today’s drink of the day is the Hollywood Sling. It is found in Victor (‘Trader Vic’) Bergeron’s 1947 “Bar-tender’s Guide.” Of course, he errantly considered the drink a cocktail, as could be expected from any source after about 1910. But, I’m going to pretend that prohibition never happened so that I don’t have to explain to Americans (including Trader Vic’s ghost) the differences between two of their most historically seminal types of drinks: cocktails (bittered slings) and regular slings (with spice instead of bitters). Nor do I feel like explaining that over a hundred years ago, foreigners took to calling any drink they wished to seem like an American drink a ‘sling,’ even though it was usually a punch like the Singapore so-called Sling or the fixes that Heering refers to as slings on their website. Think of the foreign mis-appropriation of the word ‘sling’ (in its drink-related meaning) in the same light as the many decades of calling all drinks ‘cocktails.’ When ignorance and pretense are combined, pity-worthy vocabulary usually ensues. That said, today’s drink is exactly a sling, according to the old American tradition.
What alienates Bergeron’s ‘mixology’ even further from pre-prohibition standards than his vocabulary was his complete abandonment of the jigger (2 fl-oz.) as the total amount of liquor in mixed drinks. Drink books maintained the jigger through the 1930’s, and had Trader Vic published his recipes just a decade earlier, many of his drinks would have seemed cheap or skimpy and a few others would have seemed profligate.
Now that all of that grumpyness has been exorcised, I will get on to the drink, itself. Of course, I have re-jiggered it and given it its proper family name (sling). I recommend using Matusalem platino or clasico as the light rum. I presume that enough gin preference exists that I need not recommend anything there. As far as service is concerned, Trader Vic mentions no ice, which should lead one to use a goblet so that the stem can help keep the hand from cooking the drink. But, he indicated an old-fashioned glass tumbler, which should be suggestive of ice. I present it two ways – the way I would drink it, and another way for men who feel that they need a tumbler as an accessory to their gender image. That might not be a fair observation. Let me be more reasonable. If you plan on taking a good while with this drink, make it soft and on-the-rocks so that it will stay cold longer – at the cost of becoming ever more-watery in your hot hand. If you want it to remain full-strength no-matter-what, make this drink ‘up’ and finish it in a reasonable amount of time before it can get warm. The juice in this one is an accent only – just like the few drops or single barspoon found in the original recipes for such bittered slings (cocktails) as the Brandy Crusta, the Bronx Cocktail and the Pegu Club Cocktail (just to name a few). Don’t assume that there was some sort of fruit shortage in bars of the past. Don’t ruin this drink like so many bar-keeps and bar-creatures have ruined those other drinks by putting in too much juice! Not even Trader Vic did that to this drink. As is appropriate for all slings and cocktails, let the liquor be the star here.
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