Today we’re going to mix up the Southside Cocktail as Drink of the Day. Al Capone was born January 17, 1899 and Prohibition went into effect the same day in 1920. Yes, right on Capone’s 21st birthday. A business expansion opportunity like that as a birthday present from the feds led to him becoming its most notorious violator. So today we’ll get to the Southside Cocktail recipe for Al Capone’s birthday.
We mixed the Bee’s Knees cocktail to celebrate the demise of the Volstead act by passage of the 21st Amendment. But we have not yet examined its birth. Dire as Prohibition was, we can at least thank Woodrow Wilson for vetoing it when first presented to him. Unfortunately, that veto was overridden by the House only two hours after Wilson vetoed it and the Senate agreed the following day. Talk about ruining the party.
Suddenly the production, importation and distribution of booze departed legitimate business and entered the realm of criminal gangs. Our protagonist was highly qualified. He wasn’t exactly well suited for the strict rules of his Catholic school and was expelled at the age of 14. Capone worked some odd jobs but got involved with small-time gangs. He ultimately landed with the then-powerful Five Points Gang based in Lower Manhattan where he was mentored by fellow racketeer Frankie Yale. While working the door at a bar he inadvertently insulted a woman and was slashed with a knife three times on his face thereby earning the nickname “Scarface.”
Capone got invited to Chicago in 1919 by Johnny Torrio and began working as a bouncer on the south side. When Torrio took over the crime group Capone became his right-hand man. After Torrio was shot one day he handed over operations to Capone. Suddenly at the age of 26 Capone was the new boss of a powerful crime organization that included illegal breweries and a transportation network that reached up to Canada, with political and police protection procured through bribes.
Al really took to this, upping the violence factor to increase business. Establishments that wouldn’t buy booze from him developed the strange habit of encountering explosive devices. Nonetheless, the booze he supplied made him popular in the general population. He reveled in it, indulging himself with custom suits and cigars, gourmet food and drink, and female companionship. Not until the gruesome Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, when Capone tried to kill the head of the North Side Gang, did his popularity go downhill.
The Southside Cocktail
Like most history recounted by drunks, Capone’s favorite drink is a point of argument. One group contends he was fond of Templeton Rye Whiskey. But that can only apply to the original bootleg juice made in Templeton, Iowa. Not the contemporary brand. That said, we also spoke earlier about the bathtub gin of Prohibition which tended to be pretty rotten stuff. The gin sold by Capone’s gang was known to be much rougher than gin imported by his northern rivals.
For this reason we’re going to declare the Southside cocktail as Drink of the Day. Sure, some claim this drink actually originated in the Southside Sportsmen’s Club on Long Island, but Al is known to have enjoyed them. That’s good enough for us. Besides, it contains lime juice and thus counts as a serving of fruit in your nutritional plan. Look closely and you’ll see the Southside Cocktail recipe is vaguely akin to a Daiquiri, part of the sours family.
Based on the Mr. Potato Head school of bartending we should note a variation. If you add a couple of dashes of celery bitters and a pinch of sea salt you will have an Ocean Side cocktail first dreamed up by San Diego’s wunderkind bartender Erick Castro and served on his menu at Polite Provisions. Try that once and you’ll realize you’re drinking a health tonic.
- 1½ oz Gin
- ¾ oz Fresh lime juice
- ½ oz Simple syrup but those of you liking things sweet may want to use 0.75 oz
- 7 Mint leaves About 7 mint leaves
- First take all but one mint leaf, put them in the palm of one hand and give them a good spank with your other hand. Toss into your trusty cocktail shaker and add the liquid ingredients. If you’re so inclined you can start with the simple syrup and muddle these leaves, but if you shake vigorously enough that’s not required.
- Shake until frosty cold.
- Strain into cocktail glass (and please, be civilized and double strain to avoid unsightly mint leaffragments floating about in your drink.)
- Garnish by floating the reserved mint leaf on top.
- Rinse and repeat.