Southside + double straining.
The Southside, like the Daiquiri and the Gimlet, is an exercise in balance between lime and sugar but with an added element – mint. Yes, it’s a simple affair but a delicious one as well as a useful introduction to the concept of adding more than just liquid ingredients and ice to our shaker. Throwing a sprig of mint in the shaker is an excellent way of extracting all the oils from the mint leaves. Yum. The problem is that you’re left with about a zillion tiny mint fragments in your drink. The solution to this is the technique known as double straining. If you’re using a cobbler shaker it’s just a case of holding a fine strainer between the shaker and glass as you pour – a two handed task but by no means tricky. Incrementally more tricky is double straining while using a Hawthorne or Julep strainer and if those are your choices I suggest practicing a couple of times with just ice and water to avoid embarrassment in front of guests. As you can see in the picture a double strained cocktail is smoother than a single strained one. While the tiny shards of ice and smaller mint fragments are held back by the fine strainer you will notice some super-tiny mint bits get through – don’t worry about them as they are too small to cause the drinker any offense. Double strain whenever you have some fruit or vegetable matter in your shaker that you don’t want in the final drink. Beyond this the question of whether to double strain or not is ambiguous. Some drinks are nicer with some shards of ice glinting on the surface and some are more attractive smooth – the choice is entirely yours.
Origin stories of the Southside are many and varied – as is the recipe itself – but, if I have to pick a favourite, I’m going for the Chicago gangster version. Legend has it that, during prohibition, Al Capone’s crew were in control of the South side of the city and only had access to sub-standard bathtub gin, the taste of which was often disguised with lime and mint. The tale sounds a bit spurious but, hey, never let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?
2oz gin of choice (if you’ve made some in your bath so much the better)
1oz fresh lime juice.
0.5 – 0.75oz sugar syrup (1:1) to taste*.
1 sprig of mint (6-10 leaves).
Shake with ice and double strain into a chilled champagne coupé. Garnish with a single (dry) mint leaf.
Toast Al Capone for fighting the greater evil of prohibition.
*The amount of syrup will depend on the sourness of your limes, the strength of your syrup and the sweetness of the drinker’s tooth.
The Southside can be lengthened with ice and soda into the Southside Fizz (think gin Mojito). Or with Champagne as a Southside Royale.