This gently pink twist on the Southside Cocktail gets it's color from rhubarb syrup that also adds a nice gentle tartness. It's easy to make, refreshing and definitely worth a try soon.
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As I mentioned when I shared my rhubarb syrup recently, it's fun to swap it into cocktails instead of standard simple syrup. Of course, the slight tartness in the syrup doesn't go with everything, but it certainly works well with the gin, citrus and mint in this lovely drink.
What are the origins of the South Side?
The cocktail this is based on has been around since at least 1916 when it appears in Huge Enslinn's book "Recipes for Mixed Drinks" as a South Side Fizz. That version combined lemon and lime and added soda, but the general idea was the same.
Beyond that, though, it gets a little hazy. Some say the name comes from the South Side of Chicago, and this was the way they drank gin there, in contrast to the North Side where they drank gin and ginger ale. The story goes, the gin imported by Al Capone and his gang was rougher than that imported by rivals in the North. So they needed to sweeten it more and this cocktail evolved.
Other theories are that it is named after the Southside Sporting Club on Long Island. Certainly New York's 21 Club is largely credited with popularizing the cocktail (though it didn't open until the 1920s). The name can be written both as one word or two, just in case you were thinking that might help with the origin.
Whatever the origins, it's a tasty drink. You will find recipes using lime and others with lemon (probably in part to Enslinn's recipe using both). The 21 Club version used lemon, though, and I have stuck with that here. Lemon conveniently pairs better with the rhubarb, too.
Tips for making this drink
This is as simple as putting everything together in a cocktail shaker, shaking and straining into a glass. That said, make sure you double strain it so you don't get bits of mint sneaking through. It distracts a little from the drink. So, use a fine strainer over the glass.
You want to shake enough to get a little flavor from the mint, but not so much that you make it bitter. So don't over-shake this. If it feels nice and cold, and is gently frothy, that's likely enough.
If you prefer a longer drink, you can top it up with some soda water for a Fizz version, but it works well wither way. Some recipes use a 2:1 syrup (ie 2 parts sugar to water) so I added slightly more than the original rhubarb syrup which is 1:1. You may want to use slightly more or less, to taste.
The classic way to serve the original is by gently slapping a mint leaf in your hand to get the oils to come out slightly and laying this on top as a garnish. Here I put the mint more to the side, but either way works.
What if I don't have rhubarb syrup?
If you don't have any rhubarb syrup, you can still make this in the classic way with regular simple syrup. It just won't have the gentle pink color, and I do think you get a little of the rhubarb flavor sneaking through.
I'm also planning to experiment on the general idea with other syrups like my ginger syrup which I can also see working well, so why not experiment with the idea yourself, too. Homemade grenadine would be another option to add a gentle pink and flavor.
This rhubarb Southside cocktail is an easy, bright and citrusy cocktail. It's refreshing but has a kick and is definitely worth trying soon.
Try these other gin cocktails:
- St Germain gin and tonic (a lovely gently aromatic twist on the classic)
- Clover club in Paris (a twist on the Clover Club with raspberry and lemon)
- Pink gin fizz (combining gin, lemon and grenadine)
- Plus this blueberry lavender gin sour from The Gastronom both looks great and sounds tasty too.
- Plus get more cocktail recipes in the archives.
Rhubarb Southside cocktail
- 2 oz gin 60ml
- 1 oz lemon juice 30ml (freshly squeezed)
- ¾ oz rhubarb syrup 22ml (or a little more/less to taste)
- 5 mint leaves plus one more or small sprig for garnish
- Place the gin, lemon juice, rhubarb syrup and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker with some ice.
- Shake everything together for a minute or two to chill well and gently muddle the mint without breaking it up too much and making it bitter.
- Double strain (ie use a fine mesh strainer over the glass) into a coupe or cocktail glass, ideally chilled. Slap the mint for garnish in your hand to bring out oils then top the drink/side of glass as garnish.