Make no mistake, this is a story of a most passionate love affair–but not the sort you’d expect. It’s a love story of a woman and a place and all the things in the place she finds, and of earthy enjoyments so sublime.
Now the woman lives in a place where things grow, almost against the odds. It is hot here and salty. It’s a fishing village and can be filthy. Visitors come in droves for cheap booze and the seaside, a little heritage by the wayside. They make this place in their own image, with shacks and bars and resorts aplenty, and all things the same but the air seasoned salty. Not so for those who stay. Those who stay simply know that this is a town where things can grow.
So they planted Auroville full of trees, reforested a world of scorching breeze. They cultured strange cheeses, they yeasted unusual breads, seeded cold kombuchas, found strange new sheens in the polished wood of fallen trees, and buried themselves in the red, hot soil. They sought no assurance that anything would ever taste the same, ever again.
Like that, the woman came seeking a world of wonder and everyday adventure that required no special cables for safety–save the sort that lift your soul before it drowns. Like that, the woman planted her own garden. She was no horticulturalist; her experiments were not advanced or specialized. She had only herself to plant, after all, and she had not a clue how she would grow. So all she found was a delight: invitations to worlds of wild thyme and eglantine.
This would be her lasting fling, her love-affair with a wild-enough place with the temperament for rife experiment. She fell hopelessly in love with the thousand secret tastes of the garden, each with it’s own distinct calling. This would be her recipe for a Pondicherry fling, or its most essential ingredient.
Now the original and most famous of gin slings is the Singapore Sling was created in the early 1900s by a bartender at the Raffles Hotel. Although the woman had passed by the Raffles Hotel precisely twice in her life, it never occurred to her to enter (and part with a princely sum) for a taste of this iconic drink. She had had other preoccupations in that town, and not much care for authentic origins. What mattered to her was the idea she could carry home to connect the dots between the other worlds she loved, and her own. So she would, like so many who had remained in Pondicherry before her, bring a longing from elsewhere to nurture here. What would it grow to be? What struggles would it face? Like what would it taste? She had no idea.
The Pondicherry Fling cocktail is a localized riff off the Singapore Sling [John over at Kitchen Riffs has a great Sling recipe], but makes use of hibiscus syrup made from flowers growing in the garden rather than cherry brandy. That, as it turns out, makes all the difference in the world.
You could buy hibiscus syrup online, or make it from dried hibiscus flowers if you’d rather not make your own–though it’s super simple and well-worth the effort to make it on your own. The recipe is in my Hibiscus Margarita post here.
There’s the syrup:
There’s the mix:
And there, the drink:
- 30 ml gin
- 15 ml hibiscus syrup (make your own from the recipe linked in this post, or buy online)
- 10 ml Dom Benedictine
- 7.5 ml brandy
- 10 ml Cointreau
- 120 ml fresh or packaged pineapple juice
- 10 ml lime juice, or the juice of about a half lime
- 10 ml grenadine
- dash of Angostura bitters
- Soda or seltzer to top up
- Put all the ingredients except the soda/seltzer into a cocktail shaker and mix vigorously.
- Ready a few glasses with an extra ice cube or two in each (especially necessary if you live in hot climes such as ours)
- Pour the shaken drink over the ice in serving glasses
- Top each with a little soda or seltzer
- Give it a stir, or serve with a spoon or a straw right away
- Since this drink uses Dom Benedictine and brandy, if you happen to have B&B, you might as well just use 20 ml of that instead of the slightly different proportions of just Dom B and brandy given above.
- It's an extra step or three to make fresh pineapple juice, but it adds volumes to the flavor of this drink, and helps give the drink a frothier head -- which is the hallmark of an excellent sling. In other words, it's well worth the extra effort.