As much as I love all things rum and tiki, in the spring and summer, I also crave gin. Gin and tonic, gin and soda, gin and soda splash of tonic, gin fizz, gin martini, gin bramble, gin and juice, Stiegl Radler with gin, gin gimlet, tom collins, bee’s knees, etc etc etc.
Also, as much as I love rum, I don’t like mojitos. I don’t think I’ve ever ordered one, and I raise my eyebrows at people when they do.
So I crave gin and I don’t care for mojitos, but I still like mint. Mint is the best garnish out there, and the smell of mint is the epitome of freshness. So, when I first heard about the Southside—basically a mojito with gin and lemon instead of rum and lime—it sounded about like what I imagined the perfect warm weather gin cocktail would be. My dad read about it in the Wall Street Journal (classic dad move), and as a drinker of gin and tonic, he was intrigued enough to give it a try (way to go dad).
A quick google search shows the article was published in 2007, however, there is a nice follow-up seven years later in Town and Country called “The Southside is the Preppy Cocktail that Signals the Start of Summer.” I think that title pretty much sums it up. Though I consider my basic attitude as punk rock as the next guy, I’m not scared of preppy. I am, however, scared of the heat of summer and believe to my core that refreshing gin is one of the best ways to fight it. And we should always be fighting.
The key ingredients are gin, lemon, mint, and sugar—you really can’t mess it up. You can make a mint syrup, recipes abound. You can muddle mint with sugar and lemon juice, stir with gin to dissolve and mix and then top with soda. Or you can shake all the ingredients with fresh mint and either strain into a cocktail glass with a tiny splash of soda (my favorite) or into a collins glass with crushed ice and more soda (a close second).
‘Any which way you can’ will do, but I tend to at least operate under the following proportions: 1.5-2 oz gin depending on your taste for booze (the big brands will do or something a little more craft that enhances the herbal quality of the drink without taking away from the freshness); ¾-1 oz lemon juice (if at home, the juice of one not-gargantuan-sized lemon will do—jiggers can be tedious at the casa); 1/2 ounce of simple syrup (sugar, honey, agave—all will do—I keep it simple); and a small handful of fresh mint leaves freshly torn. (For a further fun riff down the Southside rabbit hole, try muddling or shaking a few strawberries into the cocktail for more fruit flavor and that pretty pink color.)
2 oz Apostoles Mate Gin (London Dry or St. Georgia Terroir)
1 oz fresh lemon juice (~the juice of 1 lemon)
.5 oz simple syrup (or mint syrup)
5-10 freshly torn mint leaves
Shake with ice, strain into cocktail glass, top with a tiny splash of soda
Add strawberries or sub peppermint for more summer fun
Recipe & Story by Hunt Revell
Photograph by Erin Wilson
This recipe first appeared in Flagpole Magazine.