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.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Mai Tai Cocktail
Straits Sling Cocktail
Bermuda Rum Swizzle
Dr. Funk Cocktail
Fog Cutter Cocktail
Bermuda Rum Swizzle
Or check out the index for more
This looks like a refreshing and beautiful drink for summer. Sparkly. I'm not a big drinker but I always enjoy your posts and your beautiful photography. --Rocquie
Hi Rocquie, it really is a nice summer drink -- very cooling! Thanks for those kind words, and for taking time to comment.
Well John you've done it now. This one I had never heard of, well, except in regards to a person or two! Which means I must try it right? Love the components and can imagine how refreshing it is.
I'm suddenly very thirsty and think the name is awesome! These photos are fantastic and it look wonderfully refreshing. Love the addition of ginger beer - which I can't stand on it's own but it does mix wonderfully with lime. Lovely!
Wow, this is so different! What information you have given us on this drink. I have never heard of this one, or the other various names. I do not think this one is for me as I really am not a drinker, especially beer. That I do not like at all. But I love the way it looks and such wonderful photos. Looks very refreshing, I am sure. Thanks for the drink and the info. Now if I hear someone speaking of this drink, I can tell them what I have learned. Hope that your day is splendid! Cin Cin....
Hey, I love the name of this! You do such a great job with your photos, even after 8 of these cocktails :)
Haha I laughed out loud at this name!! I love it! Looks super refreshing!
Lovely photography as usual, John. I imagine that after drinking several of these cocktails, one would not suffer much!
Name didn't put me off! It made me LAUGH! I love it. I LOVE your cocktail recipes!!
Hi Barb, it's a really fun drink! Odd name, but great taste. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tricia, ginger beer and lime is a dynamite combo, isn't it? Perfect in this drink! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dottie, ginger beer actually tastes very much like ginger ale. Not really beer-like at all. It's a fun drink, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pat, actually we split the cocktails! And I made half portions, so it wasn't nearly as bad as it sounds. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, that name is something, isn't it? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Fran, I'd only suffering if I couldn't have one of these! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nagi, it's a fun name, isn't it? And really fun drink! Thanks for the comment.
The name is enough for me to put this on my must make cocktail list---too funny! Thanks for trying out all the versions to find the best of the best.
Thank you for the welcome back! I LOVE the name of this drink lol! And I love all the ingredients in here, especially real ginger beer. Another winner to enjoy by the pool even if the night before was not rough.
I read the name aloud to my husband and he blinked several times before saying excuse me, hehe! now I think he is very interested. I know....... the things we do for our art, someone has to do it right? Another great post.
Assume the eight variations were not consumed in the one night:-) That Mrs KR is such a trooper isn't she:-)
Bah ha ah! This just sounds like a hangover ALL OVER AGAIN! ;) Although LIME JUICE is a known hang-over helper!
Can we change it to the Suffering Food Blogger and send over a double. :) I think I need a minimum of a half gallon - to start. :) At least I'd have a reason to be dizzy and know I'd earned it. This does sound good.
They always say that the best way to get rid of a hangover is to drink alcohol. At this has ginger beer to make you feel less guilty. :) Love how this drink goes from suffering to dead by just adding more and more alcohol. Never heard of any of them, but it sounds good!
Hi Liz, isn't the name fun? And it was, ahem, work trying out all those versions, but someone has to do it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Evelyne, ginger beer has nice a nice flavor! Love the stuff. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, that name really is something! Loads of fun, though. And yes, we live for our art! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rachel, Mrs KR is a trooper! And no, not all 8 versions at once (and then we shared half-size ones, so we didn't end up consuming huge amounts). Thanks for the comment.
Hi Gigi, it does sound like a hangover all over again, doesn't it? No doubt where the suffering comes in. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Maureen, oh, I like that! We definitely need a drink called the Suffering Food Blogger! Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, yeah, you noticed that progression too? I think I'll stick with the original! Thanks for the comment.
This is the funniest name ever for a cocktail. But judging by its ingredients, it is one of the most refreshing and tastier ever as well.
Hi Denise, isn't this a great name? And it truly is a refreshing drink! Thanks for the comment.
It's happy hour in my office and I just sent this recipe with one of the bar guys to make me a Suffering Bastard. Im sure it is just as delicious and refreshing as your photos make it. Especially loving the addition of the ginger beer.... its my fave. Cant wait for it to be in my person. :)
Happy week to you John.
Hi Anna, hope you enjoy it! It's really a fun drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I try very hard to never have a hangover, but if I ever have one, I'll be trying this cocktail!
I am loving the flavor combo here John - very interesting!
I am a HUGE Moscow Mule fan. Know I would love this twist.
Hi Pam, we try hard to avoid those too! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Alyssa, isn't this interesting? Really a good drink! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, this is definitely in the same family as the Moscow Mule! An even closer match might be the Dark 'n Stormy (great drink, if you haven't tried it). Thanks for the comment.
Hahaha - so glad y'all "suffered" to bring us the perfect blend!
I love drinks with fun names. Is it wrong I want to order this the next time I'm out? ;)
Hi Shashi, yup we suffered so much doing research for this post. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, definitely ask for it next time you're out! But you might want to have the recipe ready -- but a lot of bartenders don't know this drink. They haven't suffered enough. :D Thanks for the comment.
Funny name for a cocktail, haha! Looks tasty :-D
I love the name of this cocktail. It sounds like it would be a good one to sip on.
Hi Kristi, it really is a funny name! But an awfully good cocktail. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dawn, isn't the name interesting? Really fun! And really good. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
The name is enough. :D ;)
Hi Lux, isn't the name so much fun? Thanks for the comment.
These hair of the dog remedies are always cleverly named. I suppose because anyone who over imbibes is in need of a good chuckle (as long as that chuckle is not so loud as to hurt the head too much). GREG
Hi Greg, I agree about the names! My favorite might be the Corpse Reviver -- the very first post I did! Thanks for the comment.
Good on Mrs KR for taking one for the team! I love the name of this cocktail and it had me intrigued from the title. I have never heard of this 'remedy' before. I think my husband will need one of these as he has gone on a weekend away with the boys, skiing in Queenstown, NZ. Between you and me, I can confirm there is more drinking going on than skiing xx
Hi Charlie, weekends away with the boys almost always means more drinking that whatever activity is supposed to be on tap. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Yes, one does have to suffer to blog;) Fabulous cocktail, I think you should come up with one for women The Suffering B*(ch? More sampling required, sigh, but you could do it!!
Hi Barb, we're always up for more sampling. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wow, so many notes on this drink. You sure know your stuff! The name is not putting me off. I would accept any drink in this heat :)
Hi Cathleen, the name really is odd, isn't it? Great tasting drink, though! Thanks for the comment.
The name is certain catchy! I am certain if I am dying I don't want to be dead with addition of rum, but what the heck. LOL It looks refreshing. Loving how the ice cubes have held little bubbles in the cubes and your photography is just gorgeous. Wishing you a super Sunday!
Hi Bam, yup, I think I'll stop at suffering and not go on to dying or dead. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I seriously love the name, hahahaha! Imagine serving this-' here you go suffering bastard'....lol! I doubt your spam filter would even let me post this comment. What an entertaining post. Dying bastard....LOL!! Looks delicious.
Hi Minnie, fun drink, isn't it? And the best thing is it's really, really good! Thanks for the comment.
Okay, I need to buy some gin! I really enjoy your cocktail posts. It's so hot here, sometimes something cold is necessary and I really don't enjoy beer. Your posts have me looking forward to trying some refreshing new things!
Hi Marcelle, gin goes wonderfully well in cocktails, so you should definitely buy some! And this is such a good drink -- really refreshing. Thanks for the comment.
Nothing better than a blog with a Nietzsche quote.
BTW, if you gaze long enough at this drink, it gazes back at you.
Hi Beth, I wonder if the drink gazing back at you inspired phrase "here's looking at you, kid". :-) Thanks for the comment.
Well once again, fabulous photo. My favorite part of this is the Ginger beer. I'm a new fan of that stuff. And thanks to you, my cocktail board on Pinterest in growing nicely. Pinned!
Hi Lea Ann, I need to check out your cocktail board! Ginger beer is really good stuff, isn't it? If you haven't had one, try a dark 'n stormy -- great drink that uses ginger beer. Thanks for the comment.
Will tell my husband about this hangover remedy.. heehee
Hi Peachy, should he ever need it, I'm sure he'll be grateful! :-) And it really is a refreshing drink with wonderful flavor. Thanks for the comment.
It was created as a hangover remedy, how very interesting. I was completely intrigued by the name. The ingredients are all so fun, I really love the bitters in it. Might have to just try this handsome drink sometime.
Hi Asha, I love bitters in cocktails! They really do add something, even though the amount you use is small. Thanks for the comment.
Love the name of this drink! haha! It sounds like one I would like a lot because I love ginger beer,
Hi Amy, isn't ginger beer good stuff? We love its flavor! Thanks for the comment.
LOVE THE NAME! It makes me wanna drink it right away!
ROFL I had no idea a drink like this existed!! Thank you so much for taking me on a new journey. What a fun sounding drink!
Hi Marcela, you should have right away! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ansh, this really is a fun drink! And one that many people have never heard of. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a fun summer drink! I love it's history and the name is hilarious!
Hi Mary, this really is a fun drink! Great name, wonderful flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have been saving this post to make sure I didn't miss, so that I could read it when I had time. Which actually I don't right now either, but decided to give myself a break. I've heard of the drink, but didn't realize it was really a drink. As usual love the history behind the name. Probably more likely to drink it with bourbon because I have that on hand, but I love Rose's Lime Juice---so that would to be a 'must have'. I associate Rose's with meeting my first lover in college. That means remembering being young. Aaaaah.
Hi Carol, always fun to remember being young. It was yesterday, right? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Best cocktail name ever! I love that its a hangover cure that could possibly bring on a bigger hangover than before if you have too many!
Hi Amanda, yeah, you've spotted the problem with this cocktail as a hangover "cure." :-) Thanks for the comment.
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