I feel a close affinity to the Singapore Sling cocktail. Think back to the 1970’s when I taught modern dance at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland. After teaching two hours of Martha Graham contractions, spiralling falls to the floor and other crazy movements, I was ready for a stiff drink. Len and I would traipse across the street to O’Henry’s Tavern to settle into a Reuben Sandwich and a large Singapore Sling cocktail. Not content with just one cocktail, I swigged down two ‘Sing Slings’ to ease my tired body and to forget I had to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. These two drinks packed a wallop and each time, I wound up with my head face down on the table.
Len’s aunt was working there as a waitress at the time and I said to him, “Please don’t let Aunt Sylvia see me like this!” Well, she saw me alright!
The Singapore Sling was invented at the famous Raffles Hotel sometime around 1910 by Ngiam Tong Boon, although it is doubtful that the modern day cocktail resembles the original one. I’ve heard that the Long Bar at Raffles charges $35 for each Singapore Sling and is already pre-mixed. Better to make your own and make it just the way you like! Singapore Slings typically contain gin, cherry brandy, Cointreau, Benedictine, pineapple and lime juice and Angostura bitters. You can also add Grenadine, but I left this out since my liquor bill was starting to explode.
Here is a picture of your required ingredients- I highly recommend this cocktail as a refreshing New Years Eve drink, but here’s a warning. Only drink one glass instead of two – Aunt Sylvia may be watching!!
We’ve all heard about Strawberry Margaritas, but how about a Prickly Pear Margarita? Len and I were recently hiking in near-by Rice Canyon in Chula Vista, California, one of the many canyons in the San Diego area known for its natural cactus and chapparal vegetation. I used to hike in this canyon when I was a child and past images came to my mind – branches of cholla cactus sticking to my hand as I brushed past – my friend’s mother donning garden gloves and pliers to remove the prickles from my hand.
That day as we walked in the canyon, the fruits from the Prickly Pear Cactus were out in abundance, their red color contrasting with the green spiky paddles of the plant. Len said that people have been eating this cactus fruit for many centuries and was a major source of food and medicine for Native Americans. I felt a major ‘WhatTha!’ coming on and started to ponder what I could make with this fruit. It came to me suddenly – what about a Prickly Pear Margarita!
Prickly Pear fruit (called tuna in Spanish) has a subdued flavour with a cross between a watermelon and a plum. However, when puréed and added to a Margarita, it can turn an ordinary cocktail into something extraordinary!
Prickly Pear Cactus in Rice CanyonYou’ll need Garden Gloves and Pliers to harvest the fruit You have to be very careful in picking the Prickly Pear fruit- the prickles are almost invisible and are rather difficult to remove if lodged in your skin. For my Margarita, I decided to buy the Prickly Pears from a local Mexican supermarket, where the prickles had already been removed.
To prepare the Prickly Pear:
First, cut the fruit in half length-wise: Next, scoop out the seeds:Cut around the inner fruit to separate it from the outer skin: And here is the delicious pulp from the Prickly Pear!
To Prepare the Prickly Pear Purée:
First, prepare a syrup with a 1:2 ratio- I brought 1/4 cup water to a boil, then added 1/2 cup sugar and stirred for several minutes.
Reduce the heat; then add 3/4 Prickly Pear fruit and stir until the fruit mixture becomes soft.
Purée the mixture in a blender, ready to be added to your fantastic Prickly Pear Margarita!