Top 5 classic drinks and the best places to drink them

Pint of beer in England
Image courtesy: Lonely Planet Images

I think most of us would agree that drinking and holidays go together quite well. There’s a certain romance to sipping a cocktail in a strange city, and there’s no better way to make friends than to buy a round for your fellow travellers. This article mashes up drinks and travel, highlighting some classics and the best places to drink them!

The Singapore Sling

This iconic drink was invented in the early 20th century by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon while working at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, Singapore. This sweet red concoction includes pineapple juice, gin and Cointreau, among other ingredients. While you might find the atmosphere a little contrived and the drink is overpriced (a whopping $30) and mass-produced to cope with demand, there really isn’t a better place to sample this than its birthplace. Tourists pack the colonial-inspired bar where they can munch on peanuts and toss the shells on the polished floorboards while imbibing their $30 cocktail.

The Martini

Although it was invented in the US, the martini, made traditionally with gin, dry vermouth and garnished with an olive, was made famous by Agent 007 of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But for the classic experience, don’t do the James Bond: have it stirred, not shaken.

The bar at the iconic Algonquin Hotel in New York serves up the world’s most expensive martini. At $1000, the ‘Martini on the Rock’ is strictly for the rich and, perhaps, the crazy. It’s a regular martini except that instead of the olive it is garnished with a half-carat diamond. While you’re there, look out for New York’s oldest bartender, Hoy Wong. He was still serving drink at age 94 at the last count.

The Piña Colada

Legend has it that Piña Colada was invented by Caribe Hilton’s bartender, Ramon ‘Monchito’ Romero, after three months of experimentation. The original recipe included white rum, pineapple juice and cream of coconut. Puerto Rico’s government recognised its contribution to the world at large by declaring it the national drink in 1978.

One of the coolest places to taste the Pina Coladais the Oasis Bar at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, its birthplace.

The Daiquiri

If Puerto Rico gets its own signature drink, can Cuba be far behind? Like most other drinks of legend, the origins of the daiquiri are shrouded in a veil of myth. One legend has it that a bunch of American mining engineers working in Santiago came up with the concoction in 1900, though the recipe involving white rum, lime juice and syrup has been around in some form or another since the 1700s. Hemingway and JFK were both big fans of this particular tipple.

For the classic daiquiri the El Floridita Bar in Havana which was once frequented by Hemingway. To complete the experience, sit by the bronze impression of Hemingway leaning on the bar with a book by his side.


To many of us, this is the king of all alcoholic beverages and it’s possibly one of the oldest too – evidence of beer production dates to Mesopotamian times. The United States leads the world in beer production: over 6 BILLION gallons are brewed a year.

For getting into the beer big time, there’s nothing like hitting the world’s largest beer festival – Munich’s Oktoberfest. Sure, the price of a stein of beer may be going up each year, but people are still packing it in. Over six million visitors get sloshed on everything from wheat beer to dark ale.

This article by Shawn Low and first appeared in in June 2011. It was refreshed in July 2012.