On Saturday, July 23rd, at the Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, San Francisco Tiki bar Smuggler’s Cove won the Best American Cocktail Bar award. It was a long time coming, as Smuggler’s Cove has been doing great things since opening in 2009. But more importantly than finally recognizing the West Coast for having more than one great cocktail bar, the award unveiled something many of us have been saying for years: we are living in the Second Golden Age of Tiki.
Tiki, that romanticized version of Polynesian culture appropriated for cocktail bars predominantly in the post-World War II era, enjoyed a heyday from the mid-1930s thanks to Tiki pioneers Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic before finally falling out of fashion sometime in the 1970s. But thanks to bars like Smuggler’s Cove there has been a renewed interest – and dare I say better facsimile than the original – in classic Tiki culture.
Some of the great Tiki classics, however, aren’t even from the original age of tiki, they were simply imported from the previous era. The Daiquiri is a perfect example, as is the Singapore Sling. But one lesser-known import is the Suffering Bastard. Created by Joe Scialom of the Long Bar at the Shepheard Hotel in Cairo during World War II, the drink is one of those proto-Tiki concoctions that might have been lost to the ages had it not been imported by the likes of visionaries like Donn Beach and Trader Vic.
The drink sounds weird on paper: a mixture of gin and whiskey – sometimes Scotch, sometimes bourbon – with a healthy dose of lime and ginger beer, the Suffering Bastard sounds less like a refreshing concoction one would crave in the summer and more like the hangover cure it has long been purported to be. And though there are almost as many stories about the origin of the name to be found as there are recipe variants, I like to use the house recipe from Smuggler’s Cove and serve the whole delicious mess in my Smuggler’s Cove mug. Summer is served.
1 oz London dry gin
1 oz brandy
½ oz fresh lime juice
¼ oz Demerara syrup
4 oz ginger beer
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients but ginger beer in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice cubes until cold. Strain into a Collins glass or Tiki mug and add ginger beer. Top with crushed ice.