THE SOUTHSIDE

Here’s a gangsta one! Here’s some “Good Stuff” for the cocktail veteran, but also for the newcomer to the game, a great drink to get you into gin.

And what I do know is that it’s a damn good cocktail coming from a time when cocktails weren’t exactly top-notch.

1920’s Chicago: the training ground for gangsters and the birthplace of jazz – imagine yourself in a basement speakeasy gin joint, with gang wars raging outside, sitting right next to Chicago’s notorious king, Al Capone, sipping his favorite triple, while listening to the great Mr. Louis Armstrong – what a way to make your troubles disappear!


The roots

There are so many different stories on where this drink came from, but most of them are either too boring, or, maybe plausible, but still, not super interesting… So I’m going to stick to the fun story, exciting, but basically disproved, but who cares?

The time and place: 1920’s prohibition Chicago. 1920’s America was the Golden Age of organized crime, which was previously limited to extortion, prostitution, rackets, and the like, but now the mob was able to use Prohibition to control one of the most lucrative businesses ever, booze.

The city was very much a gangland split between the north and the south. The gangs of the north cornered the market of high quality spirits by smuggling liquor across the border from Canada. This left the south side gang, Al Capone’s gang, with no choice but to sell locally made spirits – literally bathtub liquor. This booze tasted awful and made people sick, so prohibition gangsters were looking for a way to cover up the awful taste of this bad bottled gin. Bartenders on the south side started using sugar, citrus, and even mint to mask the terrible flavor and imperfections.

There’s always the question of how a Chicago speakeasy cocktail found its way into lush country clubs of upstate New York, but it’s way more fun to sip a Southside and think about Capone and all the bad boys of Chicago fighting on the streets while you watch some of music’s greatest icons play on stage at the city’s famous jazz clubs than it is to envision rich, old, white folks sipping mint-fizzes in between tennis sets.


southside2The makin’s
2 parts gin
3/4 parts freshly squeezed juice from 1 to 2 limes
3/4 parts freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
1 part simple syrup
10 fresh mint leaves
1 part cold club soda
1 mint sprig

 

The drill
Fill cocktail shaker with ice
Add gin, lime, lemon, simple syrup, and mint leaves
Shake vigorously for 10 seconds
Strain into ice-filled serving glass and top with soda water
Garnish with mint sprig and serve immediately

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