Where exactly is the "south side" of the classic Southside cocktail?
Bartenders themselves have troubling pinning down its origins.
According to beverage lore, the drink could be named after the South Side of Chicago or the Southside Sportsmen's Club on Long Island, N.Y. — no one seems to be sure. Speculation only increases with its ingredients, since it can be made to order with vodka, gin or rum.
But Ted Bauer, owner of the Valley Inn in Brooklandville, just north of the Beltway, confidently noted that Baltimore was an early adopter of the recipe, a summer favorite on the country club circuit. It's the same recipe he's hoping to popularize year-round at his bar and restaurant.
The beauty of the Southside is its easy customization and versatility, made possible by the simplicity of its accompanying ingredients: fresh mint, lime, simple syrup and soda. Basically, it's a more straightforward mojito, minus the cane sugar. It's so simple, it's mind-boggling that more bars don't offer it.
Bauer makes his Southside — officially and serenely dubbed the Valley Peaceful Southside — worth your while in the base liquors' quality. You want vodka? You'll get a healthy pour of Tito's. Gin? Hendrick's coming right up. Perhaps rum? Have some Mount Gay.
Since it's summer, I'd opt for a gin Southside, letting the Hendrick's cucumber flavor brighten against the mint and the lime. Fresh, cool and floral is in keeping with the season and with Bauer's commitment to "freshness and diversity." It's worth mentioning that the Valley Inn offers prosecco on tap. Top the Valley Peaceful Southside with a little of that for even more fizz and sparkle.
But I'm forgetting the best part. Normally, this cocktail will cost you $11. But if you pop in on Friday during happy hour, you can knock a few of these back for $6. For that price, you don't have to worry about which poison to pick — sample one of each and decide which version of the Southside is your true original.
How to Make The Valley Peaceful Southside
2 oz. vodka, gin or white rum
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
6 fresh mint leaves
Place ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously to bruise the mint leaves; strain into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice.
Where to Get The Valley Peaceful Southside
The Valley Inn
10501 Falls Road, Brooklandville
$11 reg.; $6 Fridays, 4-7pm