If you happen to ask a well-versed fashionable bartender for a Southside, you’ll most likely get a Gimlet variation or a Tom Collins riff, each that includes a particular mintiness and each definitely made with gin. However when you order a Southside in Baltimore, you’ll get one thing totally different. There, Southsides are made primarily with rum—and generally with vodka or rye—as a substitute of gin.
The most important throughline in each variation of the Southside is the historical past of nation golf equipment. Through the Gilded Age, such establishments have been constructed simply exterior metropolises like New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The unique model of the cocktail was born on the South Aspect Sportsman’s Membership on Lengthy Island, then a lemon-laced variation on a Mint Julep made with gin. (As a result of the drink might predate the rise of dry gin, it’s possible that genever or Previous Tom gin was initially used as the bottom.) It didn’t take lengthy for the drink emigrate to different nation golf equipment, because the American elite hunted and fished their method down the East Coast.
Some maintain that the Maryland-style Southside originated quickly after the Lengthy Island model, however due to the exclusivity surrounding nation membership tradition, it isn’t straightforward to pinpoint the arrival of the Baltimore model. And in modern-day Baltimore, there are quite a lot of opinions on how the drink ought to be made.
Brendan Dorr, co-owner of the gin-focused bar Dutch Braveness, is likely one of the few bartenders in Baltimore who defaults to gin. His is a product of the cocktail revival’s translation of the Southside as a minty variation on the Gimlet that omits the soda water from the unique recipe. Dorr realizes that, in a metropolis like Baltimore that holds its traditions so expensive, his take is wildly contrarian. Although he’s a Maryland native, his allegiance to gin continues to be stronger. “I feel the basic gin and mint go so properly collectively,” he says. “There’s botanicals, recent herbs—it simply pops.”
On the opposite finish of the spectrum is the Southside served at True Chesapeake Oyster Co. The seafood restaurant’s take is an ode to the Baltimore Southsides that got here out of the world’s nation golf equipment and are loved throughout the area at “hunt cups”—steeplechase-like occasions which have a robust tailgating custom and derby-like costume. In fact, the drink additionally pays homage to the annual Preakness Stakes, held each Could at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course.
“It’s an previous Baltimore Metropolis nation membership drink—and it’s contested between whether or not it’s the Elkridge nation membership or the Gibson Island nation membership,” says bartender Chuck Perry. Constructed like a mule in a 16-ounce glass, his drink reads like an aged rum punch with each lemon and lime, and mint, and topped with ginger beer. Perry says the important thing to an ideal Southside is within the pre-batched mixture of citrus, sugar and mint, and that the idea of a DIY Southside combine is decades-old in Baltimore consuming tradition.
Aaron Joseph of Baltimore’s Cane Collective and Cane Mixers additionally produces a Southside combine that he sells. As a Black bartender and entrepreneur, he sees greater than only a consuming custom within the Southside; he sees a legacy. “You’ve received two iconic African American bartenders at very distinguished nation golf equipment that have been mainly the useful resource and the supplier of Southside combine for generations,” Joseph explains. These two males have been the late George Lee, who tended bar at Inexperienced Spring Valley Hunt Membership, and the late Andrew “Mr. Andy” Ervin, longtime barman on the Elkridge Membership. Each offered their combine along with bartending on the golf equipment.
Some years in the past, Joseph had the privilege of visiting with Ervin on the Elkridge Membership and watching him compose a Southside in particular person. He developed his personal recipe that mixes what he realized from Ervin together with his craft cocktail information. Joseph prefers a clear white rum for the bottom over an aged expression, and shakes the rum with lemon, mint and easy syrup earlier than being strained over 1.25-inch cubes in a double rocks glass. He tops the single-serve punch with about an oz. and a half of membership soda and garnishes it with mint and a lemon wheel.
Although there’s a honest quantity of debate about which Southside is probably the most genuine, Baltimore’s close-knit bartending neighborhood maintains a pleasant perspective towards the difficulty. “I’ve at all times discovered that bartenders have a tendency to love to go round to different locations, see what everyone’s doing, and discuss it,” Perry says. Due to Baltimore’s distinctive model of the drink—and gin purists like Dorr—each a part of the Southside’s historical past is being represented within the metropolis, from its Lengthy Island roots to steeplechase tailgates to the legacy of African American nation membership bartenders. “Generations upon generations of individuals in Baltimore have drunk Southsides,” says Joseph. “You’ll be able to nonetheless go to those nation golf equipment they usually’re nonetheless recognized for his or her model…these menus haven’t modified for 70 or 80 years.”