Many drink scholars have attributed the Suffering Bastard cocktail to Don the Beachcomber of Trader Vic’s fame, and his Tiki-focused collection. While his restaurant chain did popularize many cocktails we still see today, The Suffering Bastard wasn’t one of them. The real history of the drink was lost until cocktail scholars unearthed an Esquire article dating back to 1947.
The Suffering Bastard actually comes to us from the far-flung and unlikely destination of Cairo, Egypt. During the late 1940s, Joe Scialom was working as the bar steward at the Long Bar inside the Shepheard Hotel. Like so many bar professionals have attempted throughout history, Joe challenged himself to create the ultimate hangover cure. Regardless of its efficacy as a hangover cure, the drink proved to be wildly popular with the British soldiers fighting Rommel during World War II. But how and why he ultimately arrived at a hangover cure based on bourbon and gin has been lost to history. Luckily, you can still enjoy his creation today.
There’s an interesting story floating around about the origin of the drink’s name. Supposedly, the drink was christened as “The Suffering Bar Steward,” but came to be called “The Suffering Bastard” because after a few of them, “bastard” would be far more likely to come rolling off an inebriated patron’s tongue. It’s a great story, but it’s not true. The drink was first called The Suffering Bastard until customers began to complain about the vulgarity. We’re glad that history has relaxed its sense of propriety and let the better name stand in the end.