AKA The Suffering Bar Steward, this slow sipper was concocted as a hangover remedy
OK, the name is a bit . . . unusual. But don’t let that put you off. Because the Suffering Bastard happens to be an exceptionally refreshing drink. Which makes sense, given its origin as a hair-of-the-dog remedy.
It’s a wonderful cocktail for a lazy afternoon by the pool or on the beach. And because it’s a fairly voluminous tipple, you’ll take a while to get through one. So you won’t be drinking too many of these.
Good thing. Because you don’t want to wind up with, you know, a hangover.
Recipe: The Suffering Bastard Cocktail
The Suffering Bastard was invented in 1942 by Joe Scialom, then bartender at the Shepheard Hotel in Cairo, Egypt (more about this in the Notes). Despite its lack of a Polynesian-themed origin, the cocktail often is classified as a “Tiki” drink—perhaps because one of the kings of Tiki, Trader Vic, later borrowed the name for a rum-fueled drink.
There are numerous recipes for the Suffering Bastard floating around. We present the version we like best (which happens to be the original recipe), but discuss alternatives in the Notes.
We got our recipe for this drink from Beach Bum Berry’s Beach Bum Berry Remixed. The Bum says he found the original recipe for the Suffering Bastard while perusing some of Scialom’s private papers, which were lent to him by Scialom’s daughter Colette.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves 1.
- 1 ounce brandy (but see Notes for variations)
- 1 ounce dry gin
- ½ ounce Rose’s lime juice (see Notes for substitutions)
- 1 or 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 4 ounces ginger beer (see Notes for substitutions)
- garnish of an orange slice, a maraschino cherry, and/or a mint sprig (optional)
- Add ice cubes to a double rocks (Old-Fashioned) or tall (Collins) glass. Add the brandy, gin, Rose’s lime juice, and bitters. Top with ginger beer.
- Give the mixture a quick stir, add straws, then garnish with an orange slice, a maraschino cherry, and/or a mint sprig (if using). Serve.
- If you’re not in the mood to build this drink in the glass, you can instead make this drink by shaking it: Add the brandy, gin, Rose’s lime juice, and bitters to a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake for 15 seconds or so, then strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with ginger beer and add garnish (if using). Serve.
- We don’t suggest using an expensive brandy (or cognac) for this cocktail. Something that sells for $15 a bottle or so should work fine. We like St. Remy for cocktails, but ask your liquor store what they recommend.
- As for the gin, any name-brand dry gin will be fine. We like to use Beefeater’s in cocktails.
- Our usual reminder: This blog is noncommercial. We don’t receive compensation for mentioning brands. We buy our booze with our own money, and recommend only what we like.
- Many people like to make this drink with bourbon rather than brandy. If you want to try this variation, we suggest altering some other ingredients too: Replace the Rose’s lime juice with ½ ounce fresh lime juice (or a bit less; to taste). Shake the drink, and strain into a glass filled with ice cubes. And then add ginger ale instead of ginger beer—it just works better with bourbon (at least, that’s what our taste buds tell us, and we speak as folks who usually prefer ginger beer).
- BTW, we tried at least 8 different recipes for this drink. As noted above, our favorite is the one we present here (with brandy, Rose’s lime juice, and ginger beer). Our second choice is bourbon with fresh lime juice and ginger ale.
- If you’re making this drink with bourbon, don’t use the expensive sippin’ stuff—it would be wasted in a cocktail. We like to use Wild Turkey 101. If you want something less pricey, Evan Williams works quite well.
- Many modern recipes for the Suffering Bastard replace Rose’s with fresh lime juice. This works, particularly if you’re using bourbon instead of brandy. But when making the brandy version, we opt for Rose’s—it just seems a better match.
- As noted above, Trader Vic concocted a rum drink that he called the “Suffering Bastard.” But his cocktail was quite different from Joe Scialom’s—in fact, it closely resembled a Mai Tai. Trader Vic’s version eventually became so well known that many people assume he invented the name.
- When Scialom created the original Suffering Bastard in 1942, much of the world was at war. Rumor says he served gallons of the drink to hungover British soldiers at his hotel bar in Cairo (they were stationed in Egypt to battle Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps).
- This cocktail is sometimes called the Suffering Bar Steward. So how did that alternate name arise? Some commentators claim that Scialom originally called his drink the Suffering Bar Steward; later on, a patron in a noisy bar misheard the name as “Suffering Bastard,” and the new moniker stuck. Others say that Scialom named the drink the Suffering Bastard, but adopted the alternative “Suffering Bar Steward” to avoid offending patrons; eventually, though, the drink reverted to its original name.
- FWIW, we’d vote for the second theory. But no matter. Most of the imbibing world now knows this drink as the Suffering Bastard.
- After creating the Suffering Bastard, Joe Scialom created two spin-off drinks: The Dying Bastard and the Dead Bastard.
- To make a Dying Bastard, start with the recipe for the Suffering Bastard, but replace the quantities of brandy and gin we specify with ½ ounce each of gin, brandy, and bourbon.
- To make a Dead Bastard, start with the recipe for the Dying Bastard, then add ½ ounce light rum to the mix.
- After World War II, Scialom worked for a while at the Marco Polo Club in Manhattan (it was there that he invented the Dying and Dead Bastards).
- He later worked for Hilton Hotels, traveling the world as mixologist-expert for their various hotel properties.
“Wow,” I said. “We’ve tasted 8 different versions of this cocktail. Brutal!”
“Sometimes we have to suffer for our art,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“True,” I said. “And as Nietzsche reminds us, to live is to suffer.”
“But we owe it to our loyal readers,” said Mrs K R. “They’re thirsty! And they’re looking to us for expert advice! So maybe just one more variation?”
That’s my Mrs K R. Always eager to comfort the afflicted.
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