It's the weekend, so let us talk about cocktails. Asked the other day which spirits were my chosen tipples of choice, I automatically answered that I was a gin and a tequila drinker (which I think is the obvious answer of any Brit who has been exposed to far too much Southern California in their time!) While I'm still learning what I like in the latter, over the past few years I must say that I've become something of a gin connoisseur, with several different bottles on the counter at any given time to match different cocktails and different uses. My favourite cocktail to show off the different notes in each bottle of gin? The Short Southside Fizz.
The history of the classic 'Southside' cocktail is a bit difficult. People argue about where it came from, and even if there is a 'classic' recipe at all. Really, I like to think of a Southside as a Gimlet (gin, lime juice and sugar syrup) served with fresh mint. However, some people make it with lime. Munchies recently published a great piece on the convoluted history of the Southside, if you're one of those geeks like me who is into cocktail history and you fancy learning more.
A 'Southside Fizz' is essentially a Southside, served in a long glass rather than a coupe, over ice and topped up with soda water. Some people also make a 'Southside Royale', topped up with champagne. I find that by serving my Southside Fizz in a long glass you're watering down the flavour too much, so I've invented the 'Short Southside Fizz' (but who knows, it could already exist with the cocktail's history), where the cocktail is served over ice in a short glass, topped up with just a little soda water. Got all that?
The reason I was after a light, refreshing cocktail with its own flavour, but still really showed off the flavour of the gin it has been made with was because the team over at spirit subscription site Flaviar were kind enough to send me over one of their Gin adventure boxes, along with tasting notes so I could learn about a few more different gins without having to invest in big bottles of them.
Flaviar is a spirits subscription and tasting club, which you can add your name to the wait list to join here. Their online store has a dizzying selection of different bottles of your favourites (gin, rum, whiskey, tequila, bourbon, vodka), so much more choice than you'd find even in your local wine merchant or liquor store, and you can subscribe to their monthly tasting boxes, or order one off tasting adventures. The stylish 45ml test tubes (enough to make a cocktail and taste some straight) come packed in a compact black box through the post, with enclosed tasting notes for how to throw a tasting party, and get the most out of each spirit.
When I posted about my Flaviar gin adventure on Instagram, I was asked about value for money. Boxes start at around £25.99 for 3 sample boxes, and £41.99 for 5 sample boxes, so they are not cheap. However, that comes in at just over £8 for enough booze to make a drink and have a tasting, which considering the outlay you'd put on a whole bottle you may not like, is pretty great. You can find out more over on their website.
My favourite gin out of these I've tried so far is the Spanish Mare gin from the Mediterranean, which is clean, fresh and fruity, with a very strong lemony base, which makes it perfectly suited to using it in any drink where you're seeking to enhance the natural citrus notes. While I would have probably not picked up a bottle to try (I like to know my gins before I buy), I'll be seeking one out as at the moment (aside from sample sizes) I've only got bottles of The Botanist and Rock and Rose on the go, which are both highly botanical Scottish numbers, very different from Mare's clean profile.
The below measures make one Short Southside Fizz, and is easily doubled, tripled or quadrupled. It assumes your soda water is already fridge cold, and that you have sugar syrup to hand. You can either buy this for a couple of pounds from your local supermarket, or make your own. Just boil down 50/50 sugar and water until all the sugar has dissolved and allow it to cool. I keep any leftovers in a small screw top jar or bottle in the fridge, and as it is just sugar and water, it should last for a very long time.
- 3-4 Fresh Mint Leaves, plus a sprig to garnish
- 30ml Gin
- 15ml Fresh Lime Juice
- 7ml Sugar Syrup
- Small Handful Ice Cubes
- Soda Water
Combine the mint leaves, gin, lime juice and sugar syrup, along with approximately half the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker or a large jam jar with a tight lid. Shake well, and strain over the rest of the ice in a small glass. Top up with soda water, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
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by Rachel Phipps at Mode