Suffering Bastard

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 20, 2023

The Suffering Bastard is a strong and spicy cocktail, initially designed to act as a hangover cure for allied troops during World War II.
Suffering Bastard cocktail with mint next to jigger

The name Suffering Bastard refers to two very different drinks:

  • The traditional version was created for allied troops during World War II. Invented by Joe Scialom in the Shepherd's Hotel in Cairo back in 1942, the cocktail quickly became very popular amongst British soldiers. 
  • The other was part of the Tiki cocktail culture in the 1960s. 

This original 1942 version of the cocktail, also listed by the IBA, is based on two types of spirits: Gin and Brandy. Then, lime juice, Angostura cocktail bitters, and ginger beer balance the drink.

Jump to Recipe | Ingredients | How to Make it | Variations | Tiki version | More Recipes


Here's what you'll need to make this classic cocktail:

  • Dry Gin: In a Suffering Bastard, you want to use a Gin with classic flavor. Choose a London Dry or Dry Gin like Beefeater, Tanqueray, or Sipsmith.
  • Cognac: There's an ongoing discussion on whether Bourbon or Brandy (Cognac) is the second part of the spirit base. Due to the geographic and political situation and also according to Scialom's daughter, it's most likely that Cognac is the original second ingredient. Choose a decent VS or VSOP Cognac like Camus Elegance VSOP.
  • Lime Cordial
  • Fresh lime juice: This brings tartness to the drink and balances the sweetness of the cordial.
  • Ginger Beer: If you aim for that kick of ginger the drink is known for, you must use ginger beer. I want to point this out because many recipes ask for ginger ale instead, which is a very different thing. The drink would be sweeter and a lot less spicy.
  • Angostura bitters: To enhance the overall flavor profile, add two to three dashes of Angostura's aromatic bitters to the drink.

How to make it

Scialom's creation is most often served in a tiki mug over crushed 

ice. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make one:

Step 1: Add all ingredients except ginger beer to a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake for about ten seconds until the contents are well-chilled.

Step 2: Strain the drink into a crushed ice-filled tiki mug or a glass.

Step 3: Top - Now, top it up with chilled ginger beer and garnish the cocktail with a sprig of mint.

Suffering Bastard Cocktail garnished with mint on wooden board

Variations of the Suffering Bastard cocktail

According to Joe Scialom's daughter, the traditional recipe of the Suffering Bastard asks for Brandy, Gin, lime juice, Angostura bitters, and ginger beer. 

Later on, Bourbon became a common substitute for Brandy in the recipe. Even Scialom himself occasionally did that and called this variant the Dying Bastard. And a base of Bourbon and Rum is called a Dead Bastard.

The Tiki cocktail version

Trader Vic, an icon of the Tiki cocktail culture, also created a drink with the name Suffering Bastard. 

His version is obviously based on Rum and got published in written form in 1968. Trader Vic's Pacific Island Cookbook contained a recipe listing light and dark Rum, lime juice, Curaçao, orgeat syrup, and rock candy syrup. 

You can see that the recipe is far from the original one Joe Scialom developed.

More Brandy cocktails

If you like the idea of combining Cognac and ginger-flavored drinks, try the Horse's Neck with a kick. Other popular Cognac cocktails are:

Suffering Bastard cocktail with mint next to jigger

Suffering Bastard

A boozy drink that was invented to be a hangover cure for troops in WWII.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Egyptian
Keyword: Cognac
Servings: 1
Calories: 211kcal
Cost: $4.40


  • 1 oz Cognac
  • 1 oz Dry Gin
  • 0.5 oz Lime cordial
  • 0.5 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 3 oz Ginger beer
  • 1 Mint sprig


  • Add Cognac, Gin, lime cordial, lime juice, and Angostura bitters into your cocktail shaker together with plenty of ice.
    1 oz Cognac, 1 oz Dry Gin, 0.5 oz Lime cordial, 0.5 oz Fresh lime juice, 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Shake until the drink is well-chilled.
  • Strain into a Tiki mug or Collins glass and top with ginger beer.
    3 oz Ginger beer
  • Garnish with a sprig of mint.
    1 Mint sprig


Serving: 6.25oz | Calories: 211kcal | Carbohydrates: 17.72g | Protein: 0.4g | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 68.5mg | Sugar: 16.77g | Vitamin C: 12.4mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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