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History of the Classic Southside Cocktail

Posted in Mixology

This is one of those classic cocktails that were extremely popular nearly 100 years ago, but has been neglected from then up until the modern day where it is seeing a revival in classier cocktail bars. The basic spec is :

6cl Dry Gin, we’d recommend Forager’s Black Label Gin

3cl Lime or Lemon Juice (depends on what gin you’re using)

2cl Gomme

6/8 mint leaves

Served in a coupe glass with a mint leaf as garnish.

As with most classic cocktails, the true origins of this drink are shrouded in mystery and questionable claims. After doing a bit of research, we’ve narrowed down two mostly likely candidates for its creation.

The most likely candidate, being the oldest record of the cocktail is found in Hugo Enslinn’s Recipes for Mixed Drink, written in 1917. This is also the last cocktail book written before prohibition in America started, and is supposed to be a great read for an insight into what New Yorkers were drinking back in the day. The version in this book is called a ‘Southside Fizz’ and contained both lemon and lime juice, topped with soda water. As to where the name comes from is anyone’s guess. Possible suggestions are that it’s named after the Southside Hunt Club, or named in homage to the south side of long island.

A more unusual, yet interesting origin of the drink is that it became popular during prohibition era Chicago. Al Capone and his gang controlled the illegal alcohol business in the southern side of Chicago, whilst another gang controlled the northern side. The northern side smuggled in a gin that was quite mellow and supposedly pretty good, which worked well in a cocktail with ginger ale called the Northside. Al Capone’s gang smuggled in a gin that was much harsher and less palatable. Creating cocktails with it therefore required more ingredients, such as citrus fruit and sugar. The drink concocted apparently became very popular with Al Capone and his associates, and christened it the Southside.