With the holiday season upon us, the prospect of over-eating, hideous x-mas jumpers, and pending family feuds are starting to feel unavoidable. I have been told though that ’tis the season to be jolly and what better way to get into the holiday spirit than with a classy cocktail.
The beauty of cocktails is that (almost) any alcoholic drink can be combined with one another – the possibilities are endless. Add some fruits, spices, and a fancy paper umbrella and the crowd will go crazy (especially during Happy Hour!).
In keeping with the travel theme I’ll be looking at cocktails both popular and less well-known that have been inspired by and/or named after a (part of a) city.
Let’s raise our (cocktail) glasses to the famous Singapore Sling which recently celebrated its 100th ‘birthday’. It was invented by a barman at the Long Bar of the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore back on a balmy September evening in 1915. Originally called ‘gin sling’ this drink could easily be mistaken for a healthy smoothie with thick foam on the top and the compulsory pineapple added as a decoration. I wouldn’t risk it before a gym session though: although the ‘original’ recipe includes pineapple, orange, and lime juice it is topped up with plenty of gin.
As Singapore is a mere 137 kilometres off the equator, temperatures are generally high throughout the year. The peak travel season falls between December to June and partly coincides with the heavy Northeast Monsoon – this usually takes place from November to January. The timezone is referred to STG which is GMT +8 hours. Make sure to have the local currency, the Singapore Dollar (SGD) handy.
Singapore boasts one of the busiest and best connected airports in the world: Changi Airport (SIN). It handles over 100 airlines flying to approximately 300 cities around the world. No wonder it has been voted the World’s Best Airport in 2015. Changi is jam-packed with amenities and activities, making it a world-class attraction in its own right.
If you want to avoid the heat that befalls Singapore 365 days a year check out the Night Safari – the world’s first nocturnal zoo and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Besides hanging out with nocturnal animals, visitors can also attend cultural performances such as tribal dances, blowpipe demonstrations, and fire eating displays.
For more information on Singapore, including the best deals and most interesting sights, visit the SmartLocal website.
This lesser known concoction (also called the ‘Vodka buck’) was invented back in 1941 in Connecticut by a spirits and food distributor, known by the name of John G. Martin. It’s a mix of high-quality vodka, a spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice of lime and usually served in a copper mug. It became very popular in 1950s US during the vodka craze that swept the country. The name refers to the popular perception of vodka as a Russian product (and it kicks like the preverbial mule too).
It’s no surprise that the best time to travel to Moscow is during the summer months (May-August), although some travelers swear by winter when the city turns into a wonderland covered in crisp white snow. Whatever you decide in the end take note that the timezone is MSK which is GMT + 3 hours and local currency is the Ruble (RUB).
Before you travel make sure to check the visa requirements for your country. Once it is set-up, you’ll likely arrive in one of the three major airports in Moscow: Domodedovo International Airport (DME), Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) or Vnukovo International Airport (VKO).
A must for any visitors travelling to Moscow, the Red Square is without a doubt the heart and soul of the country. Although the area is well-known as the place where the former Soviet Union showed off its military genius (and readiness), ‘Red’ Square actually had no Communist connotations in Russian pre-Revolution. It’s actually existed both before and after the existence of the former Soviet Union and the country’s Communist government. Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, and the Kremlin are just a few of the sites you can visit around the square.
Explore the city through the eyes of an expat on the Let’s Love Local blog.
According to popular history the drink which is made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Bitters, originated in the 1870s at the Manhattan Club in New York City. According to the legend, it was invented by a man named Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother, in honor of a presidential candidate, Mr Samuel J. Tilden. The banquet was a great success which made the drinks very popular – later prompting several people to order it by referring to the name of the club where it was first served.
New York is a popular destination all year around which means even the cold and rainy days of the winter don’t deter tourists from visiting the city ‘that never sleeps’. January and February come closest to being off-peak months, however flight and accommodation prices are not considerably lower at this time of the year. Here is further information on best time to travel to NYC. The timezone on the east coast is referred to as EST and it’s GMT -5 hours. The local currency is US Dollars (USD).
When arranging your travel to the US don’t forget to check the visa requirements for your country. Travelers flying into New York City may arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or LaGuardia Airport (LGA), both in Queens, or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in close-by New Jersey. La Guardia primarily serves domestic destinations, and also offers flights to certain Canadian and Caribbean destinations. Kennedy and Newark both serve domestic and international destinations. All three airports are well connected with Manhattan by taxis, buses, subways, and/or commuter trains.
If you’re a tourist who likes to get off the beaten path and is interested in the curiosities of the city, make sure to check out things such as the ‘Whispering Galleries’ at Grand Central Station, the love quotes on the benches across Central Park, the 6½ avenue with its nearby waterfall in midtown Manhattan. Here are 11 New York secrets for you to explore further.
There is a plethora of fun and funky sites and blogs about Manhattan/New York such as Walks of New York that gives you a tips on the best places to eat, drink, and generally be fabulous or Flavor Pill which is a site dedicated to lesser-known, alternative bars, restaurants, and events.
The ‘Buck’ is a long drink that was once a summer time staple along with the Collins and Rickey (both simple combinations of citrus juice, club soda, and one spirit). It is generally constructed with a base spirit (such as Whiskey, Gin, Rum), a splash of lemon juice, and ginger ale over ice. The London Buck, also known as the ‘Gin Buck’ was created by legendary barman Harry Craddock of the Savoy Hotel Bar during the 1920s and became a prohibition favorite in the United States. Cocktails referred to as ‘Bucks’ are from the family of historic mixed drinks that involve ginger ale or ginger beer, citrus juice, and any of a number of base liquors – such as the previously mentioned Moscow Mule (Vodka Buck).
The best time to visit London is in the spring, when the temperatures are mild and the city’s parks are blooming. However, spring and summer are also peak seasons and the prices of hotels and flights reflect this. You’re more likely to find airfare and accommodation deals in the fall and winter, though you’ll also encounter lower temperatures. Regardless of which month you choose, make sure to pack your umbrella. London is in the GMT timezone and the currency used across the UK is British Pound (GBP).
London has five major airports: London Heathrow (LHR), London Stansted (STN), London Gatwick (LGW), London Luton (LTN), and London City (LCY). All airports serve both domestic and international flights and there is a great public transport, bus, and train network connecting all the airports to each other and to the capital.
Once you’re all museumed-out try to find some of the quirky sights across the city such as the seven noses of Soho, or the ‘fake’ Downing Street 10 or the smallest police station on the east side of Trafalgar Square. Here are more of these ‘hidden’ points of interest in London.
Just like New York, London also boasts tons of blogs dedicated to the capital of England. Londontopia has a list of all relevant and up-to-date blogs.