Raffles and Slings in Singapore
Editor’s Note: Diplomatic Security Agent Damien Golzari is a fictional character in the Connor Stark series. This is the first in a series of short descriptions of the various watering holes around the world in which various characters from the books find themselves before or after an event in the forthcoming sequel to The Aden Effect. Stick around for cocktail recipes unique to each bar.
Mallosia Imperatrix. It’s a bug. More specifically, it’s a beetle found in the Middle East. One of my earliest and only memories, before we escaped from Iran after the Ayatollah’s rise to power, was crushing one of these beetles. Its body was tan and yellow and brown with a honeycomb pattern on its upper thorax, not unlike that of a roasted peanut. It had a distinctive sound as I pressed my sandal onto it. The sound was quite muted compared to what sounded like the crushing of dozens of beetles as their exoskeletons broke from my weight and their guts spilled out. But this time I hadn’t intended to do it.
I had met the informant. I never got his name. We sat in the wicker chairs, I with my back to one wall, in the Long Bar of Raffles, one of the popular tourist bars in this Singapore hotel built in the late nineteenth century. A few American sailors had just left. Two women and a man were at another table on the far side of the room drinking Singapore Slings before it all started. Newbies always ordered that here since it was at this bar the cocktail had been invented. I don’t know if the Japanese stopped serving them when they took over the area during the Second World War.
It would have been more advantageous to meet elsewhere but I was familiar with Raffles, had stayed at the hotel several times, and – most importantly – my informant demanded it. The complex took up most of the block between North Bridge Road and Beach Road. The slow, rhythmical, almost imperceptible hum of the mechanized fans hanging from the ceiling (punkawallahs had long since been displaced here) had muted our already hushed conversation when three more visitors walked in, ignored us, and sat on the stools before the teakwood bar. None ordered a drink from the perplexed bartender who swept the bar with his arm of the empty peanut shells left by previous customers.
For such a popular tourist destination in the city, there were too few people and no one else was walking through the main door, although I heard muffled voices and footsteps as people walked away. My informant was still answering my questions when I slid my hand inside the jacket of my single-breasted suit. My tailor at Gieves & Hawkes in London modified every one of my suits so that the cut hid my Glock. A minute later, it was all over.
I had expended every round, but it wasn’t enough. My father’s Savak bodyguards had taught me how to shoot straight and how to extricate myself from a situation. I stood alone at the Long Bar as countless peanut shells were crushed by my Ferragamo shoes. My informant’s blood soaked the peanut shells like the guts of the beetle.
It hadn’t been more than a minute before I heard the approaching wailing sirens of police cars and officers racing up to the floor. I put my Glock back in the holster and interlocked my hands behind my head before they entered and took one last appreciative look at the bar. It was unlikely I’d be able to return. But one thing I wouldn’t miss were the peanuts.
Drinks Menu from Raffles
How to Make a Singapore Sling from Esquire Magazine:
1 ounce London dry gin
1 ounce Bols cherry brandy or Heering cherry liqueur
1 ounce Benedictine
1 ounce lime juice
Glass Type: Collins glass
Stir well with 2 or 3 ice cubes in a chilled cocktail shaker, then pour unstrained into a Collins glass and fill to taste with cold club soda or seltzer. Garnish with the spiral-cut peel of a lime.
Claude Berube has worked on Capitol Hill and for the Office of Naval Intelligence, and deployed with Expeditionary Strike Group Five in 2004-2005. He has taught at the United States Naval Academy for the past nine years. He is the co-author of three non-fiction books and the author of The Aden Effect, the first in a series of Connor Stark novels published by Naval Institute Press. The first sequel will be published this fall. Follow him on twitter: @cgberube
Photo credit: Mark Pegrum (adapted by WOTR)