Photography by Rob Ballard
When it comes to modern-day drink slinging, creativity is all important.
Ironically, however, most of the world’s great cocktails – past and present – are simply variations on a theme. That’s certainly the case with Max Berlin’s punny Laab Sided, a lovely pale green concoction with roots in the Southside, a pre-Prohibition cocktail (possibly named for a tony sportsmen’s club on Long Island, or maybe the Southside of Chicago) that drinks like a gin mojito without the soda. Berlin has taken elements of the Southside (gin, lime juice and mint) and added savory flavors (cucumber, onion, shallot and fish sauce) commonly associated with the Laotian/Thai meat salad called laab (or, sometimes, larb). Fish sauce in a cocktail, you gasp? Yes, and it’s delicious, an umami bomb providing salty, oily richness and a touch of funk. The result is a light, refreshing cocktail that’s just right with spicy food.
To make this edgy elixir, combine 2 oz. cucumber vodka, 1 oz. fresh lime juice, *1 oz. onion/shallot-infused simple syrup*, 2 cilantro tops, 7 mint leaves and 3 dashes of fish sauce (Squid, Red Boat or
3 Crabs are all good brands) in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, shake and double-strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with mint and get ready for a laab dance.
*In a blender, combine 2 green onions and ½ shallot with 1 cup simple syrup; blend until smooth and strain.