Southside Cocktail - The 21 Club Signature Drink

When I feel as though my mind is working a little faster than necessary, I often turn to hot yoga. These days, the moisture that surrounds me in this bizarre, humid Seattle summer air, reminds me that hot yoga is better left for winter when my bones are cold. I am now trying to take comfort and relax in the places and spaces that make me feel calm. In my world, nothing soothes the soul better than a cold beverage, with a little dash of gin. Something to calm my nerves, and help me slow my mind enough to put things back into perspective. An afternoon G and T, a late night glass of wine. A perfectly crafted watermelon wheat beer. This is how I deal. Some people have recommended that I find a nice quiet spot, cross my legs and meditate, but I just don't get that. I'm the girl in the back of the yoga class, that you've probably cursed a few times for trying to slip out during shavasana. I once convinced Brent to take part in an 8 week intro to iyengar yoga. It was when he decided to poke my face and tickle me during shavasana, and when I let out a loud laugh, that I knew lying in a corpse pose for 5 minutes would be a bigger challenge for him. That was the last yoga class he ever took. 

I approached last week with an intense determination that has left me feeling a bit weakened. So now, I've been taking some much needed quiet time. Amongst last weeks craziness, I was fortunate enough to attend a 'Prairie Made' event in St. Paul Minnesota. The people from Prairie Organic Spirits were kind enough to invite me to their wonderful evening full of hand crafted cocktails, and culinary creations prepared by James Beard nominee Lenny Russo. I was able to visit Minnesota for the first time, meet some amazing people, and sample some of Prairie's outstanding spirits. 

Here's a little bit on the company. Prairie Organic spirits are made with certified organic corn raised by Minnesota farmers (by the USDA standards, organic means that the growing process cannot use genetically modified seeds, inorganic fertilizers, hormones, chemical weed controllers, or pesticides). As a result, it is a lot more work for the farmers at a much steeper expense, but the company agrees that it is 'well worth it'. The spirits are distilled at Ed Phillips & Sons, who in the spirit of self reliance, convert the leftover corncobs and other biomass into biogas energy, which is used to power its stills. The distillery then returns distiller grains, a co-product of distillation, to the farms for reuse as feed. Prairie spirits are crafted domestically, requiring far less petroleum consumption to bring to market, which is totally awesome. 

Prairie Spirits graciously sent me home with a bottle of their gin, handcrafted with a herbal blend of coriander, angelica, lemon, cassia, and juniper.  The drink I am sharing today is pretty high on my list of grown-up drinks. It's a 'signature cocktail' from the historic '21' Club in Manhattan, a classy spot, which on a side note, was originally a speakeasy during Prohibition named Jack and Charlie's. The Southside is definitely a good cocktail to get you into gin, if you've previously had a bad experience. The 'Southside Cocktail' is a delicate combination of tart and sweet, a grown-up version of lemonade. It's light and refreshing, perfect for those long hot summer days. You have two options when making this drink, you can either get out the martini shaker and reenact a few scenes from Cocktail, which I know you want to, or you can bust out that beautiful muddler you bought 5 years back, dust it off, and celebrate the fact that you have something to do with it. Go to your garden, and rip off a bunch of mint, because that plant is truly looking wild and out of control. With a few pieces of mint, juice from one lemon, 2 oz gin, 2 tsp of sugar, and a handful of ice, give it a shake or a stir. I prefer to shake mine with ice, and then pour all of the contents, including the ice and mint, into a glass. I prefer the ice melting dilution factor that prevents me from drinking too many in a row. Some like to shake it and then pour into a martini glass. Some like it on the rocks without the mint. We've got options.

Disclaimer - The thoughts and opinions here are my own. I was not compensated or encouraged to write this post. I am writing about Prairie Organic Spirits because they are delicious, and an environmentally conscious company whom I stand behind. My flight and accommodations were provided for by Prairie Spirits. 



makes 1 drink


2 oz gin

juice from 1 lemon

2 tsp sugar

7-8 mint leaves

handful of ice

In a martini shaker, add the gin, lemon juice, sugar, mint and ice. Shake vigorously. Pour the contents, including mint and ice, into a glass. Serve.

Alternatively, place the mint leaves and sugar into a glass. Place a muddler into the glass. Press down with it lightly on the leaves and give a few gentle twists. Add the gin and lemon juice and stir. Finish with a few pieces of ice.