Originally popularized in the 1900s, the South Side is a classic cocktail with a fresher, lighter taste than many others from the era. It’s similar to a mojito, but with gin instead of rum, or a gin-based Mint Julep.
Easy to make and a bit lesser-known than many of its contemporaries, the South Side is enjoying a popular resurgence among cocktail fans around the world.
About the South Side
As with many drinks with a history dating back more than 100 years, the origins of the South Side are hazy. It first appeared as an official recipe in Huge Enslinn’s 1916 book Recipes for Mixed Drinks. Titled the South Side Fizz, it had club soda and more fruit than the recipe uses today but is otherwise the same.
Although some people think the drink is named after the South Side in Chicago, evidence supporting this is slim. Instead, many stories lead back to the 21 Club, a famous New York speakeasy. While they didn’t invent the drink, they did help popularize it.
Ingredients for a South Side
South Sides only require a few fairly simple ingredients. You’ll need:
- 2 ounces of your favorite gin
- 3/4 ounce of simple syrup
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- About 5 to 7 fresh mint leaves
- 1 mint sprig
Directions to Make a South Side
You can make a South Side in less than five minutes:
1. Combining the Ingredients
Before you start making the drink, first prepare your cocktail glass by filling it with three-quarters of ice.
First, add the mint and the lime juice to the bottom of your shaker. Next, muddle the mint gently. Mint is a fairly delicate herb, so mashing it up too much can release bitter flavors.
Pack shaker three-quarters full with ice. Then add the gin and simple syrup. Shake the shaker vigorously for about 25 seconds. When condensation forms on the outside of the shaker, the cocktail is ready.
2. Pouring the Cocktail
Your cocktail glass should be pleasantly chilled, so you want to toss out the ice before pouring the drink.
Use a double strainer when pouring. The fine mesh helps ensure the mint bits stay in the shaker and out of the cocktail glass.
Finally, add a mint sprig garnish for an extra splash of flavor and fun.
Ways to Customize Your South Side
The South Side is a versatile cocktail that’s easy to make your own. Try these popular recipe adjustments:
- Southside Fizz: Reduce the gin to an ounce and a half. After mixing the cocktail as described above, top the shaker off with either soda water or seltzer. It creates a fizzy effect that adds fresh, slightly acidic flavors.
- Add a Different Citrus: If you’re not a fan of lemon juice, try lime, grapefruit, orange, or another tart juice. Each alters the base flavor of the cocktail.
- Use Flavored Syrups: You can find flavored simple syrups at most liquor stores, or you can also make your own by cooking non-flavored syrup with fruit, spices, or herbs (even mint).
A delicious minty drink with fascinating, Prohibition-era history, you’re sure to enjoy a South Side.