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Oahu Gin Sling

Oahu Gin Sling

In our opinion—no, scratch that—this is just an indisputable fact: There's no better compendium of Tiki cocktails than Jeff "Beachbum" Berry's Remixed. So, when we feel like exploring drinks that remind us of the tropics, we look no further. Facing so many choices and a variety of unusual ingredients, we decided to search for a recipe that was fast and easy and didn't require us to buy something new. We settled on the Oahu Gin Sling for it's simplicity.

Historically, a sling predates the classic cocktail and stems from a period before drinks contained bitters. At that time, they also would not have had citrus, except as a garnish, amounting to little more than sweetened spirits. While modern versions with their added fruit juices and seltzer may not adhere to historic definitions, the fact remains that naming conventions are far less important than the flavors in the glass, and it wouldn't be the first time a sling fell into the Tiki category.

The Oahu Gin Sling was created in 1970 by Playboy Magazine food and drink editor Thomas Mario. Despite being called a modern sling, it's really not pretending to be more than it is. With these ingredients, it certainly cannot claim deep and exotic character. Instead, it's light, refreshing, and somewhat singular in nature—but that's not necessarily a bad thing. This is one of those recipes that could spawn all kinds of crazy variations, or you could just leave well enough alone and accept the idea that not everything has to have Campari or some other amaro. Sometimes it's nice to enjoy a simple drink as it was intended.

Oahu Gin Sling
2 oz gin
1 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz creme de cassis
.5 oz Benedictine
1 tsp simple syrup
3 oz soda water

Shake everything except soda water over ice. Add soda and stir, then pour unstrained into a pilsner glass. Garnish with a continuous peel spiral cut from large lime.

Oahu Gin Sling Detail

This is without question all about the crème de cassis. If there was ever an example of a drink that emphasizes black currant liqueur, this is it. We rarely suggest spending top dollar on ingredients, but when it comes to cassis, we have to recommend giving yourself permission reach beyond the bottom shelf. Our last bottle of cassis was a common, inexpensive brand, but this time around we selected a bottle of Briottet and couldn't be happier. The rich fruit and gorgeous color will definitely make a better Kir and Diablos, and we'll be looking for more drinks to make that contain cassis.

The lime juice plays a supporting role, adding acid to the black currant and boosting its flavor the way lemon might improve a pie filling. It also subtracts much of the sweetness leaving an impression that this drink is dry, even though it also contains Benedictine and a little simple syrup.

The gin is also helping the fruit by doing what gin does best: elevating the other ingredients with its botanicals in ways other spirits cannot. It's certainly not recognizable as a gin drink, though you would definitely detect something missing if you used vodka. The Benedictine weaves into the equation with such subtlety that it is hard to identify until the long finish when its herbal character appears.

Perhaps the most challenging part of this recipe is the garnish. It calls for a long, continuous peel from an entire lime. Lime peel is usually shallow and difficult to remove. Unlike an orange, peeling a lime is not easy to do. We opted to use a channel knife to carve away one long spiral. This proved to work well, but it took so long we wondered if a vegetable peeler would have worked better even though it would have resulted in something more like a horse's neck. If you put in the time and do it right, the result is quite stunning in the glass and you do taste some of the lime oil as you sip the drink.

11 comments to Oahu Gin Sling

  • James R. Coplin

    Try a Ciro's Special. It appears in Grog Log but either I'm missing it or for some reason it is not reprinted in Remixed.

    1oz lime juice
    3/4oz cassis
    1/4oz Grand Marnier (sub with what you like best, I like Clement myself)
    1 1/2oz dark Jamaican rum

    There is a variant of this on pg185 in Remixed that uses tequila.

  • James R. Coplin

    Like almost everything tiki, shake with ice and strain into glass.

    • James R. Coplin

      Also, it is on the thick and sweet side. You can bump the rum or augment the volume of rum with a light variety to even it out. In the tiki world, fiddling is the norm as is blending rums to alter the "weight" or mouthfeel and also to change the flavor profile. Mount Gay or Matusalem would be a good silver here. Maybe even Appleton if you wanted a little bite and funk. Even mixing some gold or pulling the Jamaican in favor of a different dark like Lemon Hart (the standard not the 151 strength) would all be fair game. Welcome to tiki.

      You comment about my modifications to the "Church" putting it out of parameters comes from my tiki enthusiasm where tweaking until you like what you get is more important than sticking to classic standards.

      • I agree with you about tinkering and usually ignore the effect it has on total volume, but the Church is not a strong drink, so doubling the base spirit will give it quite a bit more kick. It seemed important to call that out.

    • So it's served strained without ice? Most of the tiki recipes I have made are UNFILTERED or strained over fresh ice, a chunk, or even topped with more ice. Inevitably, I will have to select a glass and by your description, I would strain into a chilled coupe. Is that the right presentation? Is there a garnish?

  • James R. Coplin

    Into a coupe would work. No garnish listed but I suppose you could throw in a berry of some sort. lemon peel twist wouldn't be unworkable. It is a rather dark drink though so not much to see. Then again, that will totally depend on the run selections.

  • Paul

    Back to the Oahu Gin Sling, I tried this Friday according to your original recipe Randy, and it was very easily imbibed. The cassis is distinct, and very good in this drink.( I used the French Crème de Cassis de Bourgogne ) It's nice with a cassis drink as I haven't made many before, and this one is definitely a keeper.

  • Gaurav Sonawane

    What r the preservaties for bottled cocktail n how much
    Time we can store coktails....

    • If you are bottling your own cocktail, you don't really have added preservatives. You are relying on the shelf-life of the ingredients themselves. That said, alcohol is a preservative. So is sugar. This is why spirits and liqueurs can last in a cabinet and so can concentrated syrups and fruit preserves. Depending on the recipe, citric acid is also a preservative, but fresh juice is prone to spoilage because it can also contain bacteria, yeast, etc.

      Your storage time will vary. Like a good bottle of wine, I would expect flavors to change over time, but it should last as long as the ingredients themselves. The cleaner your bottles and the tools you used to make the bottled cocktail the longer it will last. Refrigeration can help extend storage and flavor, especially for vermouth-based drinks.

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