“Would you like me to clear the table for you, madame?”
With one swoop of his arm he brushed the peanut shells off the table and they fell to the growing pile on the floor. I stared at the waiter with mild horror and walked towards my seat crunching the peanut shells under my feet. Did he really just do that?
I had come to the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel for the same reason everyone else does; to sip on a Singapore Sling in the very hotel where the drink was invented in the early 1900s.
Inside the bar was dark and inviting. Palm shaped fans created a cooling breeze, while guests from around the world leaned back in wicker chairs and enjoyed their pink drinks in hand – everyone in the room was sipping a Singapore Sling.
I scanned the room and noticed that piles of peanut shells were littered around the chairs and the tables at the Long Bar.
What was the meaning of this?
It was too messy to be careless behaviour…was there a tradition behind it all?
I got up to take a few photos and that’s when I noticed the sign:
Quite possible the one place in Singapore where littering is actually encouraged. Never would we suggest you break the law. But at the Long Bar at Raffles, feel free to brush your peanut shells onto the floor…
Apparently the Long Bar is one of 18 unique establishments at the Raffles Hotel where breaking culinary rules is the norm. It’s only at the end of the day when the bar is ready to close that the peanuts shells are finally swept away.
While no one can say for sure when or why this tradition originated, my guess is that the waiters got tired of sweeping the floor 50 times a day and behold a new tradition was born!
When the waiter returned with the menu, I was in for a bit of a shock. I gulped as I read the price:
But here I was, sitting at the Long Bar. In the Raffles Hotel. In Singapore. I ordered one up and thought to myself, people in Manhattan are probably paying a lot more for a drink in the city on a Friday night – let’s do this!
Minutes later my drink appeared in a hurricane shaped glass – a punch of pink with a foamy top, garnished with a Maraschino cherry and a slice of pineapple.
It was my first Singapore Sling ever. I may not be a cocktail expert – I certainly can’t distinguish brandy from gin – however, I can’t think of a better place to enjoy this classic.
My only regret is that I didn’t make it to any of the other 18 bars and restaurants where you’re allowed to toss food on the ground. It looks like I have a good reason to come back to Singapore now!
Have you ever had a Singapore Sling?
Have you been to a bar or a restaurant with any quirky traditions?
We stayed at the Fairmont across the street from Raffles, which claims their Singapore Slings are tastier – we took their word for it and enjoyed ours by the pool! (They were cheaper to boot!) We didn’t even step foot inside the Long Bar, but did enjoy lunch at Raffle’s Empire Cafe. It wasn’t as expensive as I was expecting and the food was delicious! Though I don’t remember seeing any thrown on the floor.
I’m going to singapore in the summer and can’t wait to do this! Yes it’s ridicolously pricey but it does seem to be a ‘must do’ while I’m there! (and it looks delcious too!)
whoaaa… for a non-drinker like me, it will take time for me to try this expensive drink!
So the partner for the sling are peanuts?
The entire time I lived in Singapore I refused to get a Singapore Sling from the Raffles Hotel. It’s from a mix! I don’t mind paying that much money for an experience, but I can’t justify paying for it for a mix. Next time you’re back in Singapore I’d recommend the one at Orgo instead – it’s from fresh ingredients and the bar is on the roof of the Esplanade, which has a great view of Marina Bay.
so funny about the peanuts, this is like all the roadhouse’s where I live (steakhouses) you throw your peanut shells on the ground and color on the tableclothes, how cool of Singapore to get all hillbilly Ohio! I didn’t make it to Raffle when I was there a couple weeks ago, but did sadly buy FIVE drinks that were over 30 dollars .. wahhh wahhh
Looks like a must-do when in Singapore! (So long as you can handle the sticker-shock.)
Ha, I’d never heard that about the nut shells before. I guess having to avoid constantly sweeping the floor is as good a reason as any to start this tradition. I’ve never had a Singapore Sling either but I reckon this is definitely the best place to try it!
I was in Singapore a few months ago and, of course, had to visit Raffles for a Singapore Sling. I loved the peanuts and shells on the floor, it gave the classy bar a laid-back feel.
I was also highly entertained by the two pigeons who managed to slip by the security guard and were trotting around picking at the peanut shells!
It’s an absolute must when your in Singapore! It was definitely one of my favourite travel experiences in Singapore and will probably do it again and again each time I return.
Really quirky and cute! Liked all the pictures. 🙂 Nice to know that spilling food on the floor is encouraged! 😛
The shells on the floor remind me of sitting outside at a crab shack in a small beach town. Sipping drinks, cracked crab going everywhere and peanut shells as a garnish. 🙂 I’ve not done that before but I can sure imagine it. Loved the pics and hey… $27.00 is not a bad price to pay for the experience you had.
We must admit it was so so so damn good! That was the first drink we had when in Singapore a couple of weeks ago! How did Sam like it? 🙂
Sometimes you just have to splurge and go to THE spot where the original hails…even if it means paying a hefty price!
I didn’t get a chance to make it to Raffles due to an injury, but we did have drinks at the bar on top of Marina Bay Sands. $26 for a Sex on the Beach! Crazy, but went for it anyways 🙂
Next time I’ll be sure to make it to Raffles!
All of this makes me super glad to be a non-drinker! Think about how much money I saved when I was in Singapore!! Also, that is more or less double what a drink costs in Manhattan. $27 is just crazy! But it looks like you had fun!
Oh Audrey !
You have taken me on a nostalic trip – many Saturday evenings were spent tossing the peanut shells onto the floor. It was almost like one was liberated in the country of countless laws. Trust me, after 8 years, the insane laws get to you, so you definitely need to let it out. That said, the laws are probably what make Singapore so clean and safe.
Glad you enjoyed your time there. Next time you are there, I’ll share some hidden gems with you 🙂
I’m visiting Singapore on Thursday 😀
Wow! I had no idea the drink costs that much, but when you travel… right!? I also found it interesting that they encourage littering at such a fancy place, I guess even Singaporeans need to break the rule every now and then, huh?!
Yes! I finished my study abroad year with a stopover in Singapore, and a Singapore Sling at Raffles. It was the perfect end to an amazing year. It isn’t cheap, but it is kind of worth it – like you say, it’s a classic. And at least it’s Singapore $, not American ones!
(Although if you ever fly with Singapore Airlines, they give you free Singapore Slings. Worth knowing!)
Wow! Well, you’re there, and you have to try the drink so I think it was worth paying that amount! It’s something you might only do once! And it would be fun to brush all the peanut shells on the ground there 🙂
I must definitely try the singapore sling!
I remember the Raffles Hotel. It’s an elite, high-end hotel, legendary place… 🙂
Wow, $27! I hope those peanuts were included with the price. I would definitely “shell” out the price for the experience too.
In Haifa, Israel, there is a restaurant where you can toss your peanut shells onto the floor. It was so weird to do it myself, i was not brought up like that 😉
If you check out No.5 at Emerald Hill, peanuts shells are welcome on the floor as well. It’s tucked away in a little alley opposite 313 Somerset. You may be able to get a Singapore Sling there but try the choya and lychee martinis (comes in a pair 9pm-1am, there are other flavours, but I’m biased of course.)… and just enjoy the night. By.the.way,the.chicken.wings.are.to.die.for. 🙂
p/s I’m gonna try some of the 50 things in Istanbul as you’ve shared. Thanks!
We were just there this evening. Throwing peanut shells on the floor and having a few drinks and some dinner
Yes, I’ve had the Sling there. It’s too sweet for my taste but one needs to enjoy the tradition. I also enjoyed the outside balcony at night despite the heat and humidity.
I was there last month to celebrate my 50th birthday, so I didn’t mind paying the high price. We did find them much cheaper at Jumbo Seafood in Clarke Quay, about $11 each. Singapore Slings are my new favourite cocktail, I even stocked up on some of the ingredients when I came through duty free on my way home 🙂
I asked the waitress at the Raffles about the throwing of peanut shells on the floor, and it’s a tradition that hails from when the Long Bar was located on the ground floor and the visiting merchants used to do it.
I went to raffles a few years ago went to the long bar and had the Singapore sling although it was expensive it was the atmosphere of the place that you enjoyed it. You have to go there and the peanuts on the floor at first it seemed wrong to drop the shells but really enjoyed it all.
Went to long bar was amazed when waiter swept peanut shells onto floor.Had 2 slings and got a free cocktail shaker!!?!!
The only downside was noisy pop music, was it necessary? I can go to anywhere in my local town on a Saturday night if I want that and I don, t
Sadly, and despite what the staff of the hotel might say the actual Long Bar is not the real original one where so many travelling legends happened (the last tiger of Singapore was killed on the pool table of the bar)… the bar has been moved during hotel restoration.
Well they sure kept the nice atmosphere and walking on the “crunchy” floor is a great feeling in the overly clean Lion City.
As a Singapore, I’m embarrassed to say that I have not been to Raffles Hotel and had never tried anything mentioned in this post. I think someone mentioned that you can have cheaper options at any bar at Clarke Quay or Orchard Road 🙂
I’ve done this a few times, most recently in 2010, glad that a friend was paying for it! He’s a local millionnaire, drives a Jaguar (been driving them all of his life after a friend once told him, Jags get the girl). Eating peanuts, drinking Singapore slings at the Long Bar…a great place for people watching. Get travelers from all over the world. When in Singapore, I always head for the Raffles just to soak in the ambiance…a little Maugham goes a long way. In fact, last week (June 5, 2017) I was on Arte, a Franco-German cultural channel speaking about Somerset Maugham in Sarawak where I live. Wrote a five-part, behind-the-scenes blog series, Maugham and Me. Enjoy…enjoy your peanuts and your Singapore slings and keep traveling and sharing your experiences…all of you… http://borneoexpatwriter.blogspot.my/2017/05/arte-somerset-maugham-and-mefilmed-for.html