Why is it called a Gin Sling?

Answered by Tom Adger

The term “Gin Sling” is derived from the German word “schlingen,” which means “to swallow fast.” This suggests that the drink was originally intended to be consumed quickly. However, the exact origin of the name “Gin Sling” is not well-documented, and there are several theories surrounding its etymology.

One theory suggests that the term “sling” was used to describe any mixed drink during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Back then, it was common to refer to a drink by its primary ingredient followed by the word “sling.” For example, a rum-based mixed drink was called a “rum sling,” and a gin-based one became a “gin sling.” This naming convention helped differentiate between the various types of mixed drinks available at the time.

Another theory suggests that the term “sling” specifically referred to a type of drink made with spirits and water. This could be related to the fact that early versions of the Gin Sling were often made with a combination of gin and soda water. Over time, additional ingredients such as sweet vermouth, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters were added to enhance the flavor and complexity of the cocktail.

The history of the Gin Sling can be traced back to the early 19th century. It gained popularity in the United States during the mid-1800s and eventually became a staple in cocktail culture. The drink was particularly favored in British colonial Southeast Asia, where it was often enjoyed as a refreshing and cooling beverage in the tropical climate.

Today, the Gin Sling has evolved into various iterations, with different recipes and variations found around the world. Some versions incorporate additional ingredients like fruit juices, grenadine, or herbal liqueurs. The classic Gin Sling, however, typically includes gin, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters, and soda water.

The exact origin of the term “Gin Sling” remains somewhat uncertain. It likely originated from the German word “schlingen,” meaning “to swallow fast,” and was used to describe a mixed drink made with gin. Over time, the Gin Sling became a popular cocktail, enjoyed for its refreshing qualities and versatility in incorporating various ingredients.