There is an umbrella term for the kind of drinks I like to make at home: patio cocktails. They are drinks with only a few ingredients, prominently feature citrus, typically served over ice, and are perfect for slow afternoons in warm weather (here in San Francisco we’re finally getting our Indian summer). Most patio cocktails also share one other quality: They have close to the same proportion of ingredients. 2 parts spirit, 1 part citrus, 1/2 part sweetener, and maybe something muddled or a splash or soda. Some drinks may vary a little from this, but overall it is a pretty safe ratio to follow. Some drinks that fall into this category:
To me these drinks are all very similar. If you start swapping ingredients a drink will switch from one to another. For instance, a Gin Rickey is gin, and lime. If you swap the lime for lemon and add some soda, it’s a Tom Collins. From there, add some muddled mint and you have a Southside Fizz. (Fizz because of the soda) This is the drink I have been making lately. The freshness of the mint with citrus is one of my favorite combinations.
The 2 : 1 : 1/2 ratio is a great way to experiment with making drinks at home without having a big home bar. In terms of alcohol, they all only have a base spirit, no other liqueurs or bitters are needed. I tend to keep a lot of lemons and limes on hand because I can use them in so many ways. I also keep some ginger beer and club soda around because it won’t go bad. Patio cocktails are a great way to improvise with using what you have on hand. Things like cucumber, ginger, fresh berries, mint, and even other herbs like cilantro or marjoram can all work great in these types of drinks. So when I have a half of a cucumber left from dinner the night before I will muddle a few slices in a drink the next day. Muddling fresh ingredients is an easy way to add variety to the base cocktail recipe. Be creative and play with what you have on hand.
You can start out by making a simple Gin Rickey or Tom Collins and figure out how you like your drinks to taste. The ratio is just a base to start from, always make drinks to your taste. Maybe you like your drinks with a tart kick like I do, try modifying the ratio by doubling the citrus to 2 parts. Or perhaps you like your drinks sweeter, just add some more simple syrup. The ratio is very adaptable to your taste.
I like my Southsides to be acerbic so I use an ounce each of both lemon and lime. I don’t know if a cocktail purist would say this amendment no longer makes it a Southside, but here is my recipe regardless.
Yield: 1 cocktail
Glassware: Highball glass
Julep and Mesh Strainer
2 oz (60ml) dry gin1 oz (30ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed1 oz (30ml) lime juice, freshly squeezed1/2 oz (15ml) simple syrupSplash of club sodaHandful of mint (save a sprig for garnish)
Instructions1. Add a handful of mint to the bottom of the shaker and muddle lightly.2. Add gin, lemon juice, lime juice, and syrup to shaker. Fill shaker with ice. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously until well combined, about 10-15 secs.3. Double strain by placing the julep strainer in the shaker and the mesh strainer above the glass. Pour through both strainers at once into a highball glass over ice, add a splash of club soda.4. Garnish with remaining mint (if using). Serve immediately.