The Suffering Bastard

sufferingProposed by: David

Reviewed by: Jonathan

I have a list of reasons for choosing a Suffering Bastard as our cocktail this week:

First, I’ve been looking for a cocktail that combines dark and light spirits as this one does.

Second, there’s the name, a continuation of last week’s trend of intriguing names.

Third, people tell me I’m the Eeyore-y-sort, so I am, I suppose, a sort of a suffering bastard myself and, who knows, I may have found my signature drink at last.

Fourth and last, the Suffering Bastard appears on a list of “100 Cocktails You Must Try Before You Die.”

Not all at once… then you would die, for sure.

We’ve made a habit here of offering drinks’ provenance when they have one, but you could guess some of the Suffering Bastard’s history. It’s another hangover cure, another misguided attempt to douse fire with gasoline. When I’m hungover—yes, I’ve been a suffering bastard of that sort too, which would be reason five—the last thing I’d want is more of what made me so. But, the story goes that, during the 40’s, a bar steward at the Long Bar in Cairo’s Shepheard’s Hotel, Joe Scialom, needed relief from his overindulgence, and created this drink, originally called the “Suffering Bar Steward.” History doesn’t record if it worked, but I’m guessing no, as “Bar Steward” became “Bastard,” clearly a step down.

Many versions of this drink appear on the web, and most of them seem to me (unsavvy as I am) baroque. They are more complicated Tiki drinks mixing two types of rum and Orange Curacao and various other sweet ingredients. The recipe I used is simple, with no ingredient announcing itself any more loudly than any other. I did add a dash or two of lime bitters I’ve been experimenting with, but that was my only amendment.

sbastardHere’s the recipe:

1 ounce bourbon

1 ounce gin

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1 dash Angostura bitters

4 ounces chilled ginger ale

Combine the first four ingredients over ice in a highball glass, then top with the ginger ale. Add more ice if needed, and stir. Garnish with a slice of orange, a cherry, or a sprig of mint.

Here’s Jonathan’s Review:

Is there anything on the net that is not accompanied by a review, comment, like or dislike anymore? Going to a restaurant? Read the reviews. Reading an article? Now you know what your neighbor, his neighbor and someone in Peyton Manning’s Omaha think they should contribute as a comment. Video on YouTube? You know you found it because someone liked it. The irony of this, of course, is that we are proposing drinks, reviewing them, and then hoping that someone comments or likes our blog.

The reason I bring this up, though, is that I try to ignore other reviews and comments when it is my turn to do the commentary. I don’t want the bias or someone else’s ideas to sway my opinion. This week the link that David supplied had some reviews directly below the recipe and, before I knew it, I had read them. They were an interesting group of ten or so comments and where an opinion was expressed about the cocktail it was black or white. That is to say they liked or disliked it with no one, or at least no one I could recall, that was indifferent.

It may have ended up clouding my review because I did find myself in the middle. The first impression was that the bourbon and gin were fighting each other. They didn’t meld like you would want, and first one then the other grabbed your attention. On top of that the lime added a tartness that dominated the initial taste. And then something odd happened—the tastes began to mix. It may have been the garnish of an orange slice or the melting ice, but the clash of flavors became a nice complexity, and the small addition of bitters started to cut into the tartness. The first impression was war, the second détente, and the third peace.

Jonathan’s Take: On first reading and taste this one seemed discordant, but in the end there was an odd harmony.

David’s Take: I liked it, whatever that’s worth. I wouldn’t hope to cure anything with it, but the combination surprised me and, I think, worked… not my signature drink, though.

Next Week (proposed by Jonathan):

One spirit that we have missed is Scotch. It may be that there are less cocktails than simple pours but there are a few intriguing ideas that range from the classics to innovative new drinks. This proposal is for a specific Scotch blend with the smokiness of peat – Black Grouse. The drink is called the Talk of the Town and is the creation of Mike Ryan of Sable in Chicago. I know the idea is that we are learning to mix our drinks, but if David feels the need to prove he lives the cosmopolitan life he is welcome to seek the direct source.

4 thoughts on “The Suffering Bastard

    • Hey, what can I say? It’s called “The ADVENTURES of Two Not-So-Savvy Cocktailians.” With risk comes rewards and, for the record, this wasn’t the worst cocktail we’ve tried (I’ll wait to reveal that in our one-year special). Thanks for visiting!

    • I’m so happy to hear that. We’re having a lot of fun… but, of course, that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t welcome a guest contributor, hint hint.

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