Fresh, minty, sweet, and sour with just the right amount of herbal gin, that's the Southside in a nutshell. A drink that even convinced Al Capone, the infamous gangster of South Side Chicago.
Quick Facts Southside Cocktail
- Method: shaken
- Flavor profile: minty, well-balanced
- How to serve it: straight up
- Glassware: coupe glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 18% ABV, 19 grams of alcohol per serving
If you ask bartenders to describe a Southside cocktail, you will often hear: it is similar to a Gimlet with mint. However, that doesn't fully capture the essence of this cocktail recipe:
- 2 oz Dry Gin
- 1 oz Lime juice
- 0.5 oz Rich simple syrup
- 6-7 Mint leaves
- Add mint leaves and lime juice into your cocktail shaker and muddle gently.6-7 Mint leaves, 1 oz Lime juice
- Then put in your Gin and syrup as well as plenty of ice. Start shaking your cocktail until it is well chilled.2 oz Dry Gin, 1 oz Lime juice, 0.5 oz Rich simple syrup, 6-7 Mint leaves
- Double strain into a cocktail glass to ensure you remove all bits of mint leaves.
- Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint or mint leaf
What is in the Southside Cocktail?
The recipe for a flawless Southside Cocktail is simple. You only need Dry gin, freshly squeezed lime juice, rich simple syrup, and some fresh mint leaves. Yet, you should follow a few recommendations to make this cocktail to perfection.
- Gin: I like a quality classic dry gin for the Southside Cocktail. It is easy to get lost in the different types of gin, but you need nothing fancy here. A solid mid-range Dry or London Dry is great. Beefeater 24 and Rutte Dry are fine options. If your budget is a little tight, a regular Beefeater will also do the trick.
- Mint: use fresh spearmint leaves or mojito mint, if available.
- The citrus component: Inventor Hugo Ensslin used a mix of both lemon and lime in his Southside Fizz. Ultimately, there is no wrong or right here, and the decision is up to your tastebuds. - We prefer lime, though. Also, stick to fresh juice and stay away from bottled options.
- Simple syrup: you need a splash of simple syrup to balance the dry and the sour.
Pro Tips & Tricks
There are things you should keep in mind to get a bar-quality Southside Cocktail at home.
- Pick your ingredients wisely. Use a gin with a traditional flavor profile, as suggested above, to highlight the mint. Also, go with freshly squeezed lime juice. Only then will you get that fresh zing the cocktail needs.
- This drink is served without ice. We advise chilling the glass with ice cubes or in the freezer before mixing the Southside.
- Muddle the mint gently to release the sweet and aromatic notes from the leaves. If you use too much force, the leaves release bitter notes.
- As for the garnish, you obviously wouldn't want to muddle the mint. Instead, gently smack the sprig of mint before adding it to the cocktail. Why? Because that releases the essential oils from the leaves and lifts your cocktail to the next level.
- Double strain your Southside Cocktail. That's necessary to ensure that only the tiniest mint bits enter your glass. That means you should pour through a Hawthorne and a fine mesh strainer.
Variations of the Southside Recipe
You can tweak our Southside recipe using a combination of lemon and lime juice (0.5oz each) instead of lime juice only. Alternatively, you also can omit the lime and go with 1 oz of lemon juice instead.
Another popular variation is the Southside Fizz. Just add about 2oz of sparkling soda water to the recipe above, and you get an even more refreshing, bubbly summer drink.
There are many stories about the origin of the Southside cocktail. For one, the New York Club21 claims it for themselves, and quite some people agree with that.
However, on digging a little deeper, it seems they were more likely responsible for making it popular than for actually creating this Gin Cocktail.
The Southside first appeared in written form in Hugo Enslinn's "Recipes for Mixed Drinks" in 1916. But it wasn't named Southside back then but "Southside Fizz,". Therefore, subsequently, it contained a splash of soda water.
Now there are two alternative stories that are also quite famous. They both would explain how the drink got its name, as well. The first one tells us that it got invented at Southside Sportsmen's Club on Long Island.
That used to be a private club where folks from Manhattan met for hunting, fishing, and drinking. And a drink frequently served there was the Mint Julep, and allegedly this cocktail evolved into the Southside at one point.
The other story is related to the south side of Chicago. Some believe that it was one of Al Capone's favorite drinks when he controlled the south side of Chicago.
Capone's rivals from the northern part of the city also had their drink, the northside. That was a mix of gin and ginger ale.
But because the Gin Al Capone imported was a bit rougher, it needed more sugar and citrus to hide the harsh notes of the spirit. And just like that, ostensibly, the South Side Cocktail, or Southside, was born.
Mint, sugar, spirit, and citrus make for an incredibly successful combination in the world of mixology. Here are some more cocktails that follow the same principle: