Served in one of two fashions, the Southside cocktail is either served up, or as a collins. As such, the second version is rather similar to a Mojito. Just as refreshing and light as a Mojito, I think that the juniper flavor goes quite a bit further at making a well rounded drink.
Originating from the 21 Club in New York City, the Southside was the house drink back when the 21 Club was at its’ peak, that being when the 21 Club was called Jack and Charlie’s (DeGroff 140). During the Prohibition, two cousins from Austria, Jack Kirendler and Charles Berns, established their speakeasy, which would continue its’ existence at various locations thanks to a series of unfortunate evictions, finally settling at 21 West Fifty-Second Street (Ibid). While there were several raids on the location, the cousins had done a fine job designing an intricate system to hide their illegal booze during the Prohibition (Wikipedia). They would use a series of levers that would sweep liquor bottles through a chute into the sewers; furthermore, the bar had a wine cellar that was hidden, and had access to the basement of the neighboring building (Ibid).
Gin is a strong flavor in this cocktail, and while the mint does blend well with it, the outcome of the drink will be based upon the specific varietal of gin used. For this drink, I’d recommend something slightly more floral; while a genever would work, I think it would be too down trodden, and likewise, a London Dry will have probably too heavy of a juniper hit. I ended up actually making this drink using G’vine Floraison, which is a neutral grape spirit and green grape flower infusion that also features nine other botanicals to infuse the gin, giving it a rather floral and light taste. In the drink, it works marvelously, making the overall flavor of the lemon and the mint sing harmoniously together. Beefeater 24 may also work exceedingly well.
Honestly, this is a great cocktail to use to introduce people to gin. Gin is quite often drunk inappropriately, so people extrapolate that gin is unwieldy or has too much of a “pine tree” taste. If someone wants a Mojito, you can usually get them to try this, and quite often, they will find this just as pleasing, if not more so. Since I like gin more than rum, I have to say that this drink is by far superior; still, the Mint Julep cannot be beat in terms of its’ position as the definitive classic mint cocktail. Here is hoping that the Southside takes on some sort of popularity, and becomes more publicly known.
When served as a Collins or Fizz, the beverage is known as the Southside Fizz; truly though, the amount of soda water should not exceed one and a half ounces, similar to that of a Mojito (Clark). The original format of the beverage to be served up. Yet, the style in which the beverage should be served depends on the mood of the imbiber, and the length of time that is desired to consume the drink. Obviously, when served up, it should be consumed rather fast, seeing that it is a short drink; and while it is technically a Fizz when served with soda water, thereby retaining the properties of a short cocktail, it is easy to turn the concoction into a long drink merely by putting it over ice in a highball glass. As Jerry Thomas says: “An efficient bartender’s first aim should be to please his customers, paying particular attention to meet the individual wishes of those whose tastes and desires he has already watched and ascertained; and with those whose peculiarities he has had no opportunity of learning, he should politely inquire how they wish their beverages served […]” (Thomas 13). The bartender is truly a service profession, and as such, ignoring the desires of the customers by giving them a short drink when they want a long drink, or various other factors, is a detriment to the customers’ ability to enjoy the experience, and gives the bartender a bad name.
Food wise, anything that a Mojito will go with, this will go with as well. And to me, it pairs better with things that feature various botanicals thanks to the flavor of the gin. Personally, I think this drink would go exceptionally with poutine, but of course, that would require you to produce the strange Canadian french fry dish. Also, the drink is rather similar to a lemonade, so any food in which you crave lemonade might be ideal for this light, refreshing, most certainly summertime beverage.
1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 to 1 ounce simple syrup
Soda water, optional
Place several mint leaves at the bottom of a shaker tin, and combine the syrup and lemon juice over the mint. Gently press or muddle the mint leaves, add the gin, and then wait a few moments for the alcohol to help extract any leftover oils that might have been expressed from agitating the mint. After which, add ice, and shake until chilled. If you wish the drink to be served up, fine strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a mint leaf. If you want it served as a long drink, fine strain over ice in a highball glass, fizz in at most one and a half ounces soda water, and then garnish with a mint sprig.
Clarke, Paul. June 27, 2005. “Summer Survival Kit Essential #1: The Southside.” The Cocktail Chronicles. http://www.cocktailchronicles.com/2005/06/21/summer-survival-kit-essential-1-the-southside/ (accessed May 12, 2010).
DeGroff, Dale. 2008. The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers.
Thomas, Jerry. 1887. Bartender’s Guide. Reprint of original. New York: Dick and Fitzgerald.
Wikipedia contributors. “21 Club.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/21_Club (accessed May 12, 2010).