A Trio of Bastards

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Originally, I was going to discuss just one cocktail, the Suffering Bastard, but after finding out that it is part of a trilogy created by Joe Scialom, I figure it would be proper to discuss all three. 


Evoking images of sadism, decay and death, the cocktails do not fit their names, unless of course you finish the trio of drinks in escalating order.  That order being: the Suffering Bastard, Dying Bastard, and Dead Bastard.  Each version has a gin, ginger beer, lime juice and bitters base, which escalates with more and more alcohol each time, which thereby decreases the amount of ginger beer utilized.  All three drinks were created by Joe Scialom back at the Shepheard Hotel in Cairo, most probably during the 40s; Joe states that it was the liquor shortage during the war days that caused him to invent the Suffering Bastard (Tiki Central).  The likely date of creation was 1942 (Berry 92).  The other two are variations on the original, and are on their own terms, excellent drinks (if not ones that will get someone inebriated).  On an aside, Joe Scialom is a famous bartender who is known for being able to speak eight languages fluently, and for being attentive to the needs of his guests.

 The Suffering Bastard originally had the intention of being a hang over cure (Clarke).  It seems though, that the drink has a few different variations on itself, and there is a point of contention over whether or not the drink was mixed with Cognac, bourbon or rum in the simplest, and also less alcoholic, incarnation (Ibid).  Currently though, mixologists have settled on it featuring bourbon originally, and it is the others which add the additional flavors of rum and brandy.  The order of addition of each ingredient to the gin-mixture base is a point of contention, and often recipes will have a different order for the inclusion of the ingredients.  In some cases, rum is called for in the Dying Bastard, and in many others, it is brandy; the final variation is set regardless, seeing as the Dead Bastard includes all four spirits.  Beachbum Berry has settled the dispute with primary sources, and denotes that the original drink uses brandy and gin (Berry 92).

Since there is so many contrasting flavors within each of these drinks, you have to be careful what ingredients you use; using something which will dominate or overpower everything else is a horrible mistake.  Personally, I’ll use a London Dry gin, usually Tanqueray, but Plymouth also works well, both of which are nicely balanced against the light sweetness of the bourbon: Buffalo Trace works well here, but so does Bulleit.  Subtleties in certain gins, such as in Hendrick’s, or Beefeater 24 would be lost or not work in this drink. A high quality Cognac would be lost among the rest of the drink, so a cheaper brandy might be appropriate, and for rum, something too old may lose its subtleties; Barbancourt 8 year actually works rather well.  A floral or agricole rum will not work, seeing as the light flavors would be lost.

Originally the Suffering Bastard went by the name “Suffering Bar Steward” (Hess).  It seems that the drink was rechristened under the term Bastard.  Because the original cocktail was the Suffering Bastard, it is highly possible that the other two drinks are variations created after the change in nomenclature.  The reason I feel that the other two were created afterward is because the story which Scialom narrates, and that the drink was originally referred to as bar steward, does not make sense with the terms dying or dead attached to it.

Concerning the ginger beer; something with a strong flavor is required in order to bring a sort of median balance throughout the drink; however, the problem is that the recipe originally called for ginger ale.  In the UK, ginger ale refers to something much more spicy, which is actually rather similar to ginger beer.  Personally, I’m using my own ginger beer, which has some lime added, and gives it more of a lime flavor when combined with the lime juice in the drink.  As such, I would reduce the amount of lime juice slightly, at least with the Suffering Bastard. Furthermore, the amount of ginger beer used decreases in each cocktail, since the alcoholic ingredients increase with each step by an ounce, the beer should decrease by an ounce so that the volume of the drink still fits in the glassware.  A collins glass (or even tall tiki mug) is appropriate for this cocktail.

The original recipe uses Rose’s lime juice cordial.  I personally prefer the drink with fresh lime juice, because it is more vibrant.  If you are trying to be proper though, use a cordial lime juice though.  Furthermore, in the Dead Bastard, the drink calls for a light rum specifically, so like the inclusion of a cordial juice, if this drink is to be made properly, utilize a light rum.

The Suffering Bastard:


1 ounce gin
1 ounce brandy
1/2 ounce lime juice (cordial)
4 ounces ginger beer
2 dashes Angustora bitters

The Dying Bastard:


1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce bourbon
1/2 ounce brandy
1/2 ounce lime juice (cordial)
4 ounces ginger beer
2 dashes Angustora bitters


The Dead Bastard:


1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce bourbon
1/2 ounce brandy
1/2 ounce rum (light)
1/2 ounce lime juice (cordial)
4 ounces ginger beer
1 dash Angustora bitters

Combine the juice, and liquor in a cocktail shaker.  Shake, then strain into a collins glass over ice.  Top with up to 4 ounces of ginger beer.  Garnish with a mint sprig.

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Berry, Jeff.  2010.  Beachbum Berry Remixed: A Gallery of Tiki Drinks.  San Jose: SLG Publishing. 

Clarke, Paul.  2009.  “Time for a Drink: Suffering Bastard.”  Originally posted September 4, 2009.  Serious Eats.  http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2009/09/the-suffering-bastard-drink-cocktails-recipe.html (accessed May 16, 2010).

Hess, Robert.  The Cocktail Spirit by Robert Hess.  “Suffering Bastard.” Small Screen Network.  http://www.smallscreennetwork.com/video/123 (accessed May 16, 2010).

Reynolds, Blair.  2009.  “MxMo Ginger, the Dead Bastard.”  Originall posted June 15, 2009.  Trader Tiki.  http://www.tradertiki.com/mxmo-ginger-the-dead-bastard/ (accessed May 16, 2010).

Tiki Central contributors.  Forum topic entitled “Recipe: The original Suffering Bastard.”  Found on Tiki Central.  http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=20723&forum=10 (accessed May 16, 2010).

Webtender contributors.  “Joe Scialom.”  The Webtender Wiki. http://wiki.webtender.com/wiki/Joe_Scialom  (accessed May 16, 2010).