spirits, sugar and (usually cool) water (and maybe nutmeg)
The American toddy, maybe a bit stiffer, maybe less likely to be served hot, maybe more likely to be topped with nutmeg, but commonplace in the early 19th Century
The recipe shown is from Haney’s Steward & Barkeeper’s Manual (1869), and the “gin” is genever, but slings were also made with whiskey and brandy. The specification of the recipe is really just an approximation that must be balanced by personal preference and discretion: you’re diluting and sweetening strong, rough spirits to taste for easier, more palatable sipping. This was simply a normal thing to do in America for many decades. If it seems unnecessary, today, that’s because we now enjoy more refined and higher quality spirits. These days, the Sling is essentially an Old Fashioned, minus the bitters, plus nutmeg. You’ll use very little water unless your spirits are overproof.
Build in a rocks glass:
- 1 bar spoon superfine sugar
- 1 splash water (to taste, use more if using very high proof spirits)
Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Add 2 oz bourbon, straight rye, genever or pot still rum
Add a little ice (optional)
Garnish with grated nutmeg (optional)
Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, p. 647; barware icons courtesy of Haus Alpenz