Suffering Bastard Cocktail Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on June 6, 2023

The Suffering Bastard is a fresh, spicy cocktail initially intended to act as a hangover cure for Allied Troops during World War II.
Suffering Bastard cocktail with mint next to jigger

This original 1942 version of the Suffering Bastard Cocktail, also listed by the IBA, is based on two types of spirits: Gin and Brandy. Lime juice, Angostura cocktail bitters, and ginger beer complete the mix.

Quick Facts Suffering Bastard Cocktail

  • Method: Shaken
  • Flavor profile: spicy, well-balanced
  • How to serve it: over ice
  • Best glassware: highball glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 12%, 19 grams of alcohol per serving

However, the cocktail name Suffering Bastard refers to two very different drinks. The following is the original recipe. You can find more info on the Tiki version below.

Suffering Bastard cocktail with mint next to jigger

Suffering Bastard Recipe

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

Equipment

  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Cocktail Shaker
  • 1 Hawthorne Strainer

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Cognac
  • 1 oz Dry Gin or London 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

Instructions

  • 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 or London 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

Nutrition

Serving: 6.25ozCalories: 211kcalCarbohydrates: 17.72gSodium: 13mgPotassium: 68.5mgSugar: 16.77gVitamin C: 12.4mgCalcium: 2mgIron: 0.2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Ingredients & Recommendations

Here's what you'll need to make this classic Suffering Bastard Cocktail, including our recommendations and favorites:

  • 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 base spirit in the original recipe. Due to the geographic and political situation and also according to Scialom's daughter, it's most likely that cognac has been part of the formula, and we keep our Suffering Bastard that way. Choose a decent VS or VSOP cognac like Hennessy or Rémy Martin.
  • 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, use ginger beer. We want to point this out specifically 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.

Tipps & Tricks for Mixing

Scialom's creation usually comes in a highball glass over ice with a mint spring. To get the drink right, you should keep a few simple things in mind: 

  • Add all ingredients except ginger beer to a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Don't shake the ginger beer because it will lose its fizz, and your drink will fall flat.
  • Make sure to open the beer only shortly before you mix the drink for the same reason - to maintain the fizz.
  • Use fresh lime juice to get some natural acidity into your Suffering Bastard.
Suffering Bastard Cocktail

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 or complement for brandy in the recipe. Even Scialom himself occasionally did that and called this variant the Dying Bastard. And the drink with a base of gin, brandy, bourbon, and rum is called a Dead Bastard.

The Tiki Version

Another drink that goes by the same name was part of the Tiki cocktail culture in the 1960s. Trader Vic, an icon of said Tiki Movement, also created a drink he called 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 cucumber. 

You can see that the recipe is far from the original one Joe Scialom developed and is less well-known these days.

Origin of the Recipe

As mentioned, the original and traditional version of the Suffering Bastard Cocktail was invented by Egyptian bartender Joe Scialom. The first time it was served was in the Shepherd's Hotel in Cairo in 1942. 

Created for Allied troops during World War II, the cocktail quickly became extremely popular amongst British soldiers. You can read the full story about the origin of the recipe and its two variations - the Dying and the Dead Bastard in our post on the history of the Suffering Bastard.

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:

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