Lost Cocktails of The Mai-Kai: The off-menu Suffering Bastard was just a Mai Tai with a kick

See below: Suffering Bastard review | Tribute recipe
Related: Trade in Vic’s Mai Tai for this classic | Mai-Kai cocktail guide | Lost cocktails
Three classic ‘lost cocktails’ drop in for a night of flights at The Mai-Kai

An examination of the various cocktail menus from Fort Lauderdale’s venerable Mai-Kai restaurant has revealed 11 drinks that fell from grace and were removed from service for one reason or another. This research inspired the “Lost Mai-Kai Cocktails” section of this blog and a whole new slew of recipes to savor.

Lost cocktails including the Suffering Bastard (front), Demerara Cocktail (left) and Last Rites were served at a special event at The Mai-Kai in March 2013

“Lost cocktails” including the Suffering Bastard (front), Demerara Cocktail (left) and Last Rites were served at a special event at The Mai-Kai in March 2013. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

But even more obscure than these retired classics is a vintage cocktail that never appeared on any Mai-Kai menu over the past 50-plus years yet was served alongside all the classics. Its popularity transcends the tropical drink genre due to its distinctive and apropos name: Suffering Bastard.

The original Suffering Bastard was created in 1942 at Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo by mixologist Joe Scialom, according to research by tropical drink historian and author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. The original recipe – which includes gin, brandy, Rose’s lime juice, Angostura bitters and ginger beer – was revealed in Berry’s 2010 book, Remixed. Also be sure to check out Berry’s 2013 epic hardcover, Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them, for a fascinating full chapter on Scialom along with more vintage recipes.

The Mai-Kai’s version of the Suffering Bastard has nothing to do with the original, other than the name. Mixologist Mariano Licudine, like many in the mid-century, improvised a new drink while using the popular name that many customers were likely requesting whenever they went out to an exotic bar. This was not an unusual scenario. Perhaps the most famous tropical drink, the Mai Tai, became the victim of so many bastardized versions that most blasé drinkers couldn’t name any of the ingredients in Trader Vic’s original recipe.

Suffering Bastard and Mai Tai tribute recipes, prepared by The Atomic Grog in March 2013

Suffering Bastard and Mai Tai tribute recipes, prepared by The Atomic Grog in March 2013. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Coincidentally, it was Trader Vic who may have inspired the Mai-Kai’s version of the Suffering Bastard. Capitalizing on the popularity of his trademark cocktail, Vic simply made his version of the Suffering Bastard a stronger Mai Tai with a heavier dose of rum and the unusual addition of a cucumber strip for garnish.

Licudine took the same approach at The Mai-Kai, where the Suffering Bastard was merely a higher octane Mai Tai with a huge cucumber strip replacing the flowers and pineapple, according to manager Kern Mattei. When Mattei brought the Suffering Bastard back from the dead at multiple events in 2013, we had the opportunity to compare the two drinks at length. While the cucumber adds a completely different bouquet and the rum profile is indeed a bit stronger, there’s no doubt that it’s the same drink.

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SUFFERING BASTARD

Okole Maluna Society review and rating

The  Suffering Bastard returns to The Mai-Kai in March 2013

The Suffering Bastard returns to The Mai-Kai in March 2013. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Size: Medium

Potency: Strong

Flavor profile: Sweet fruit juices, strong rum and a whiff of cucumber.

Review: Very similar to the Mai Tai, with the cucumber garnish adding a totally different aromatic.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars (see how it ranks). On today’s menu, it would most likely rank near the Mai Tai, just below the top 20.

Ancestry: A descendant of the legendary 1940s drink in name only, The Mai-Kai’s version took its cue from Trader Vic and is simply a stronger version of the Mai Tai.

Bilge: At Trader Vic’s, the Suffering Bastard used to be served in one of the most distinctive Tiki mugs ever made: A squatting Moai holding his head in his hands.

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Suffering Bastard tribute by The Atomic Grog

Suffering Bastard tribute by The Atomic Grog. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, March 2013)

Tribute to The Mai-Kai’s Suffering Bastard
By The Atomic Grog

* 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
* 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed orange juice
* 1 ounce all-natural pineapple juice
* 1/4 ounce rich honey mix
   (2 parts honey to 1 part water; mixed, then chilled)
* 1/4 ounce falernum
* 1 ounce Kohala Bay dark Jamaican rum (see below)
* 1 ounce Appleton Special gold Jamaican rum
* 3-4 drops of Pernod
* Dash of Angostura bitters
* Dash of grenadine
* 1/4 teaspoon fassionola (see below)
* 1 1/2 ounces club soda

Pulse blend with 1 heaping cup of crushed ice for 5-7 seconds and pour into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a cucumber spear.

Notes

As stated above, this is simply the Mai Tai with a stronger rum, most likely the 87.6 proof Kohala Bay. The descendant of a distinctively funky Jamaican rum called Dagger, this hard-to-find brand is shipped to The Mai-Kai and just a few retail outlets in Florida. [Click here for more on Kohala Bay and Dagger.] The recommended substitute is equal parts Smith & Cross Jamaican rum and El Dorado 12-year-old Demerara rum.

See the Mai Tai tribute recipe for details on some of the other ingredients, including the obscure syrup known as fassionola.

Thanks to the slightly higher proof rum, the Suffering Bastard is stronger than the already strong Mai Tai and showcases the potent rum kick. Bewared this Bastard’s after-effects.

Agree or disagree with this review? Share your comments below!

Okole maluna!

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
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