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The Southside

January 17, 2014

Bottoms Up: Drinking with Blotto and Twinks

With the stock market tumbling, Blotto and Twinks may no longer be rolling in the ready, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a cocktail or four. Well, they may not be legal cocktails, since Blotto is, much to his dismay, visiting the United States during the Prohibition, but then again, Chicago in the 1920s isn’t exactly a dry city. While the St. Louis Steamhammer, sadly, is not a real drink, complicated concoctions are definitely in at this time. So what are the barkeeps pouring?

Odds are, the drinks are sweet and frothy. The story told about cocktails tends to be twofold, that they were largely invented in the Jazz Age, and that they contained a lot of fussy ingredients to cover up the foul taste of subpar hooch, the only booze available during Prohibition. That claim has a lot of sounds-like-common-sense appeal, but – as is the case with a lot of food-world statements – there are dissenting voices. Some pundits note that by 1920, when the 18th Amendment went into effect, cocktails (mostly whiskey-based) had already been popular in America for more than 30 years. They do acknowledge, though, that there was a noted shift toward gin, which – since it doesn’t require aging – is a lot easier and cheaper to produce than whiskey. And here’s a theory off the top of my head: In the 1920s, it became fashionable (if illegal) for women to drink in public, and gin-based drinks lend themselves to the pretty colors and fruity flavors that women are believed to crave.

Whatever the reason, the Twenties were indeed the heyday of girly drinks. But you won’t give up any of your butch street-cred by knocking one back. Just get yourself a couple Blotto books, fire up some of the tunes coming in next week’s Playlist, kick back with one of the following, and party like it’s 1929.

  • The Southside (said to be a favorite of Al Capone; pictured)
    1. 2 pieces of fresh lime
      ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
      1 oz. simple syrup
      2 sprigs of mint
      2 oz. gin
      4 oz seltzer or club soda

    Muddle the lime with the lime juice, the simple syrup, and one spring of mint. Add gin, shake well, pour over crushed ice, and top with soda water and the remaining mint.

  • Gin Rickey (a favorite of Jay Gatsby’s, who clearly lacked Mr. Capone’s sweet tooth)
    1. 2 oz. gin
      Juice of one lime
      Seltzer or club soda
      Wedge of lime

    Fill a highball glass with ice, pour in the gin and lime juice, top up with fizz, and garnish with a wedge of lime.

  • Ramos Gin Fizz (Maggie’s personal fave: Lo these many years ago she spent a jolly afternoon drinking far too many of these in a deserted bar in Brighton, and toasting the wedding – taking place that very day – of Prince Charles of England, and the young Diana Spencer.)
    1. 2 oz. gin
      1 oz. simple syrup
      1 oz. heavy cream
      ½ oz each fresh lime and fresh lemon juice
      1 egg white
      3 dashes orange flower water
      1 oz. club soda or seltzer
      1 slice of fresh orange

    Shake together all ingredients except the soda and orange. Add ice, and shake for a full minute. Strain into a tall glass, and top with fizz, garnish with the orange slice. Make sure you have a designated driver.

    A slightly different recipe – supposedly the favorite of Huey Long, noted demagogue and onetime governor and then senator of Louisiana – calls for the addition of milk and vanilla extract, with or without a garnish of freshly grated nutmeg.

     

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