Chicago Drinks That Rock: The South Side

By Mason Johnson

The South Side is a gin cocktail with lotsa lemon and sugar, making it perfect for the summer (though I wouldn’t attempt to buy one at the lemonade stand on your block, kids are terrible at mixing drinks).

The South Side got popular during prohibition. The many mobsters of the time, O’Banion and his famous adversaries Torrio and Capone in particular, were desperate for cocktails that:

1. Tasted better than the competition.
2. Hid the horrible taste of the cheap swill they were peddling.

Hence, the birth of the South Side, a drink so sweet it hides the taste of the bathtub your gin was made in.

To be honest, that story about the South Side’s creation is about as truthful as your high school ex who claimed, “it’s not you, it’s me.” Ask someone from the East Coast, and it’s possible they’ll tell you the South Side originated in New York and found popularity in New Jersey.

But who cares about history? We’re here to drink.

My instructions aren’t “graceful” or “correct,” but they’ll do the job.


Lots of gin
A lemon
Some sugar
Mint leaves


If you have a shaker, congratulations, you’re better than I am at this. Shake all the ingredients together, hope you got a good ratio, and drink. If it’s too sweet, then hey, add less lemon and sugar next time, buddy. If it’s not sweet enough, well, you can figure the rest out.

And for the love of Michael Jordan, don’t forget to peel the lemon!

… Not that anyone would.

Just sayin’.

If it won’t come out right, get used to drinking things that taste bad, or go to a place like the Violet Hour. They’ve got a bunch of great gin cocktails you can guzzle down. And though it’s not on the menu, I’m certain they make a mean South Side.

Mason Johnson exclusively drinks hooch out of hobo shoes.


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