The South Side is one of those classic cocktails so old and so widely drunk that its origins are something of an enigma. Essentially a gin sour with some added mint, the first recorded recipes of the South Side listed it as a fizz. Today the South Side is generally served short: straight-up in a Martini glass or coupette, forgoing the addition of soda water which, when added, makes the drink a ‘South Side Fizz’. Either way, the balanced mixture of sour, bitter, sweet and minty makes for a refreshing and delicious cocktail.
Gin, Lime Juice, Sugar Syrup, Mint – Nick N Nora*
*premium glassware pictured, event glassware may differ.
Served short, the South Side is a strong but refreshing gin drink. The sharp, cooling nature of the cocktail make it perfect for summer evenings or lazy afternoons. When planning your mobile bar hire, the South Side is a great addition to a gin-based menu.
When pairing the South Side with other cocktails you may want to consider some longer, more fruity gin drinks to go alongside it. Another great classic choice would be a Bramble, which combines gin, lemon and crème de mure (blackberry liqueur), with blackberries over ice.
For those who favour a smoother, less acidic cocktail, something like a Clover Club, which features raspberry syrup and egg white to make for a sweet and creamy drink, may be a perfect accompaniment to the sharper South Side. When considering your bar hire this may also be a good option as the Clover Club and the South Side utilise the same glassware, minimising the number of different glasses you may require.
You may want the South Side to be part of a mint-centric menu for your bar-hire. Mint is great cocktail ingredient and features in loads of classic drinks. Mojitos are a great minty classic as is the whiskey-based, Mint Julep. For an old-school, after-dinner cocktail using mint you might want to try a Grasshopper; this pre-prohibition cocktail features crème de menthe, crème de cacao and cream to make for a sweet and creamy digestif that tastes like an after-eight in a glass.
If you’re interested in creating a menu that includes the South Side, be sure to speak to your event organiser about your options or check out some other gin-based, minty or sour-style cocktails from our list.
There are two generally accepted stories surrounding the creation and naming of the South Side, one a little more intriguing than the other.
The first, more mundane and sadly probably the more likely truthful origin of the cocktail, attributes its name to the South Side Sportsmen’s Club in Long Island, New York. The club was formed in 1886 and continued operating up until the early 1970’s, when the club and its facilities were added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Connetquot River State Park Preserve. It’s hard to know when the club started serving the classic drink, but it’s easy to imagine the refreshing cocktail being served to weary sportsmen after a game of polo or American football.
The second and more titillating tale regarding the South Side cocktail suggests the name came from the notorious South Side of Chicago, the home of Al Capone and his gang during the prohibition era of the 1920’s. During Prohibition, importing and smuggling alcohol – or ‘bootlegging’ – was big business for organised crime families, and gin was the drink of choice for their covert clientele. The South Siders’ rivals, the North Side gang, were known to import smooth gins from Europe which were often drunk with ginger ale, whereas Capone and his gang smuggled domestically produced, ‘bathtub gin’. Bathtub gin took its name from its production, often made in peoples homes, distilled from whatever they could get their hands on, and mixed in a bath or similar vessel. Suffice to say bathtub gin varied hugely in quality and, by most accounts, generally tasted awful. By mixing the gin with citrus, mint and sugar the South Siders were able to mask many of its harsher aspects and the cocktail became a firm favourite of Capone and his gang. Whether or not the drink was named after the gangsters remains a mystery.
Myths & Legends
Like so many old classics the story of the South Side is shrouded in mystery, more of which you can read about in the ‘History’ tab, but in terms of making the drink, the popularity and simplicity of the cocktail mean its method and recipe are pretty much agreed upon by most bartenders.
One myth that surrounds many mint drinks, and particularly those as classic as the South Side, is the need to muddle your mint. Many classic cocktail recipes call for this but most modern bartenders agree that when it comes to fresh herbs, a soft touch makes for a better drink. When muddled or bruised too heavily, mint can lose its luscious green colour and its sweet, zingy flavour and end up tasting bitter and looking sad and brown. A great motto to remember for mint is “bruise, don’t abuse”.
When adding mint to a stirred or muddled drink like a Mojito, holding the leaves in the palm of your hand and giving them a hard clap will sufficiently coax out the flavours and aromas. When adding mint to a shaken cocktail like a South Side, the ice and the action of shaking will bruise the leaves for you. Also, don’t forget to only use the leaves when including fresh herbs in your cocktails as the stems might make your drink taste bitter and woody.
References for this cocktail will be available soon.
Ingredients & Equipment
As a sour, the South Side derives a lot of its flavour from the mint and lime juice, but that’s not to say that the gin isn’t important. A sweet, floral gin gives the cocktail a light, refreshing taste, and the more botanicals within the gin, the more complex the finish can be.
We use Broker’s gin for South Side. Broker’s uses a 200 year old recipe, combining 10 botanicals in a traditional copper still at their distillery near Birmingham. The smooth, subtle complexity of this award-winning gin bring a depth and sophistication to an already delicious cocktail.
- 50ml Gin
- 25ml Lime Juice
- 15ml Sugar Syrup
- 6-8 Mint Leaves
- Mint Sprig to Garnish.
- Mexican Elbow
- Hawthorne Strainer
- Fine Strainer
- Martini Glass
- Cubed Ice
- Chill your glass by filling with ice or placing in a freezer
- Take your Boston glass or small tin and jigger or measure
- Add the gin, sugar syrup and mint leaves to the glass/tin, measuring with the jigg
- Using your Mexican elbow squeeze your limes directly into the jigger to measure 25ml
- Add the lime juice to the glass/tin
- Fill your shaker with cubed ice and seal with Boston tin or lid
- Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds or until your tin is very cold (remember the harder you shake, the more colour and flavour you’ll get out of your mint)
- Double strain through Hawthorne and fine strainer into your chilled Martini glass (discard ice if necessary)
- Garnish with a mint sprig, either clipped to the rim of the glass or floating at the edge of the drink
- Serve and enjoy!
For larger groups of six or more students, we offer the option to take things private. Our classes are fully portable, and we are able to set ourselves up efficiently and professionally in a wide variety of locations and settings across the capital, the UK, and beyond. You name the location, and we’ll endeavour to make it happen.
Give one of our dedicated event organisers a call on 020 8003 7982. They’ll happily talk you through your options, and answer any questions you may have about both our mobile and in-house cocktail making classes.