Although this drink isn’t made with Irish whiskey or beer, I think it’s pretty fitting for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s green and was possibly created by the Irish in Prohition-era Chicago. But most importantly, it’s very cold, which is fitting for this insanely early spring we’re having.
Many of the quick gin drinks I make at home — such as gin and tonics, gimlets, and gin rickeys — are mixed with lime juice. But I recently bought a bunch of organic lemons and have been looking for ways to incorporate them into cocktails. One easy drink is the Southside, a minimalist cocktail with easy-to-find ingredients: gin, lemon juice, mint, and simple syrup.
There are at least a couple stories about the origins of this drink. One is that it came out of Chicago during 1920s, where bars and nightclubs were divided by rival Irish gangs and their territories. According to this old NPR piece, the Northside gang made a drink of gin and ginger ale to hide the bad taste of bathtub gin, while Southside concocted their own using lemon juice and sugar. (Sweetening gin drinks to help the flavor was pretty common back then, as we’ve already seen with the Bee’s Kees cocktail.) Somehow along the way, mint was added. An alternate story is that the cocktail was created at the 21 Club in Manhattan, where it caught on with the genteel set, who in turn made it the drink-of-choice at their Hamptons country clubs.
Whichever story is closer to the truth, it’s hard to deny this crisp, refreshing drink is perfect for not only a warm St. Patty’s Day but also the coming spring and summer months.
Makes 1 drink
- 6 or 7 mint leaves
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- Lightly muddle the mint leaves in a cocktail shaker with a muddler or spoon. Add the gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, and ice. Shake vigorously for about 1 minute, until the shaker feels ice-cold. Strain into a martini glass and serve.