One of my favourite summer cocktails is a Southside, but really a Mr. Lee’s Southside. The famous Mr. George Lee, Sr. made his own cocktail mix, no fancy bottle or hipster-designed label for him.
All you really needed was a bottle of Mt. Gay rum, or gin or vodka depending on your preferance, some of Mr. Lee’s mix and some soda water. If you happened to have a sprig or two of mint to decorate the glass, all the better.
Over the weekend came the news that Mr. George Lee, bartender extraordinaire, had died at age 96. He was one of 15 children and spent his life in service as a butler, bartender and finally a cocktail maker! He was always such a cheerful presence at a party, remembering exactly how you liked your drink served. His obituary is here.
A few years ago, a friend was visiting from the UK, and I wanted to serve Southsides. I couldn’t rustle up Mr. Lee, so another friend whose shop we were visiting, zipped back to his house and brought me a bottle of Mr. Lee’s mix, because he couldn’t stand the fact that I’d serve anything less than the best. And Mr. Lee would drop off a case of mix at my mother’s house when my brother would be coming into town, so he could stock-pile it at home.
RIP dear Mr. Lee.