At first sight, many might mistake the Southside cocktail for a Mojito that somehow ended up in a weird glass. And despite the similarities to the Cuban drink are undeniable, the Southside is a different drink for a reason. Both cocktails have their entries on the list of IBA standardized cocktails, and both rightfully so.
If you ask your local bartender to describe a Southside cocktail, you will often hear: it is similar to a "Gimlet with mint" or a "Gin-based Mint Julep". It makes sense because the Southside cocktail, too, gets mixed by a simple recipe based on a classic combination of spirit, citrus, sugar, and mint.
However, even though they all are plausible in a way, neither captures the essence of this cocktail. -And naturally, this also goes for the Mojito association.
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 need to follow a few tips to make this cocktail to perfection.
Best Gin for a Southside Cocktail
If you don't know what you're looking for, you might get lost in all the different types of Gin on the market. So I want to make your life easier by telling you my favorite Gin for a great Southside Cocktail.
I always go with a classic Dry Gin of decent quality. Nothing too fancy, a solid mid-range Dry or London Dry Gin is a great choice, in my opinion. For instance, A Beefeater 24 is great, Rutte Dry is also a fine option, and if your budget is a little tight, a good old regular Beefeater will also do the trick.
Tips to make an outstanding Southside
There are some other things to keep in mind when making a Southside cocktail. Number one is treating the mint with care. Muddle it gently to release the sweet and aromatic notes from the leaves. If not handled carefully, the mint leaves will bring a bitter taste to your drink.
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 when smacking it, the mint will release essential oils, and they will lift your cocktail to the next level.
Another crucial point is the citrus component. There are all kinds of variations for it. Some use only lemon juice, others only lime juice, and Hugo Ensslin used a mix of both in his Southside Fizz cocktail.
Ultimately, there is no wrong or right here, and the decision is absolutely up to your tastebuds. Just stick to fresh juice and don't go with packed juices.
If you like the mint & lime combination as it is in a Mojito, go with lime juice. If you're more into lemon flavor, it's the mix, or you can opt for pure lemon juice. The result will be great anyway.
And finally, double strain your Southside Cocktail. That's necessary to ensure that only tiny mint bits enter your glass. Otherwise, it spoils the drinking experience, and in the worst case, you end up having torn mint leaves sticking to your teeth.
History of the Southside Cocktail
There are many stories about the origin of the Southside cocktail. For one, the New York's Club21 claims it for themselves. And when researching, there are quite some people who 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 which 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.
- 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