How to Make: The South Side Cocktail

Opinions are split over who invented the South Side — but everyone agrees that it’s delicious.

Sung Han

Like most things in life, cocktail culture can be reduced to a high school mentality: “Everyone says Brad made Vans cool at our school, but I swear Becky wore them first.” Take the South Side — a “gin mojito“, as described by Laura Lashley, Head Bartender at The Breslin — whose origin is much contested. For decades, Chicagoans swore it was the brainchild of Frankie McErline, a Tommy gun-toting bootlegger, whose associates used citrus, sugar and mint to mask the bathtub gin they brewed and served on the south side of the Windy City.

Meanwhile, Long Islanders maintained that it was a product of their high society — a direct descendent of the famed mint juleps at a certain Long Island tavern, which was a favorite among wealthy male Manhattanites on weekend hunting trips. Those same Manhattanites eventually bought said tavern and turned it into the Southside Sportsmen’s Club, from which the South Side got its name. Or so the story goes.

What do we know for sure? That it’s a damn good drink on a hot summer’s day, whether you’re taking the L or the LIRR. And sipping it sure beats bickering about it.

The South Side

Serves 1 person
2 ounces London dry gin
0.75 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces fresh lime juice
4 to 6 mint leaves

Preparation: 1. In a mixing glass, add London dry gin, simple syrup, lime juice and torn mint leaves. 2. Shake until frost appears clearly on the shaker. 3. Double strain into a chilled Tom Collins glass. Garnish with lime.

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