Old Guard Summer Cocktail

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

Many years ago, in the early days of being a married person and an actor, I worked as a bartender at an exclusive golf club. While I’d driven past the front gates most of my life on Lawn Guyland, I’d never know its name or just how secretly kept the membership. Noted members of the past included the Duke of Windsor and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Who knew?

Having grown up in and around a yacht club, we were raised to be kind and friendly to – but never mingle with – the employees – nor to take those sorts of jobs…Yet, there I was, preparing and serving cocktails at a private golf club, the only female bartender in the men-only rathskeller.

Out of that pricey, well-stocked bar offering every liquor, mixer, and tonic you can imagine, I prepared and served only four drinks: Freshly-squeezed O.J, water, cola, and Southsides. Throw in the occasional Martini, Gimlet or Manhattan but not often.

Much to my credit (tips were better when the drink was above average), I quickly garnered a reputation for preparing the best Southsides in the club. So good, I was filling the orders from the women-only lounge and sending them back by the tray-full via a busboy, who would return with a smaller tray of cash gratuities we’d divvy up between each ’round. My bar clients included Tom Brokaw, Sean Connery, Matt Lauer (I know, I know… ), most of the NY Rangers, some of the Islanders, the Jets, the Giants, anonymous monied businessmen and a handful of politicians.

Historically, the Southside, or South Side, is a very old cocktail sipped by those who golfed, fished, and hunted on LI – both north and south shores. You’ll hear told it was invented in Chicago, in the “southside” during prohibition, but I do not believe Messrs. Vanderbilt or Astor ever invited a Chi-town mobster to the Hamptons for cocktails.

Herewith, I give you my decades-old recipe (and two prep methods) for the consummate summertime adult beverage, The Southside. Speaking with a touch of Locust Valley lockjaw is optional whilst you are drinking these, but it does makes it fun.

Thank you, Deepdale Golf Club, for the instruction and the opportunity for accolades.

2 oz Gin (the drier the gin, the better; Tanqueray is good)
1 oz Mint simple syrup* [OR see the alternative, below recipe]
4-5 Fresh mint leaves
Juice of one lemon (you can swap lime, if you like)
Splash of plain seltzer

* For the mint simple syrup, add equal parts water and sugar to a saucepan with a handful of mint leaves. Bring to a boil for ten minutes. Cool and strain. This will keep for 7-10 days in the refrigerator.

Place all ingredients in a cocktail mixing glass, and shake vigorously to bruise mint leaves. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

OR do this:

With a full bar, this method was quicker with the same excellent results:

In a cocktail shaker, gently muddle mint leaves with simple syrup. (This cuts out preparing mint simple sugar.)

Add all other ingredients, add ice, and shake until chilled.

Strain into a chilled glass, or glass with ice.

Spank a mint sprig against your hand to release the oils and garnish. Yes, spank – exactly that. Crushing will bruise the leaves so clap hard with mint in your palm.

*EITHER METHOD works nicely*

NOTE: These lovely coolers creep up on you. You’ve been warned.

Happy Summering! ox

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