Let me take you back to Cairo in the 1940s. We are sitting on the terrace of the world-famous Shepheard’s Hotel overlooking snake charmers, dancing monkeys and all sorts of mischief.
Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo
In the Long Bar is a young tender called Joe Scialom. He is an inspiring and resourceful man and as the war rages it is difficult for him to hold a fully stocked bar. Poor Joe is tearing his hair out trying to satisfy his customers. He looks at the bar gantry, with its meagre stock and has a flash of genius and so a classic cocktail was born – ‘The Suffering Bar Steward’. Now fondly and phonetically called ‘The Suffering Bastard’.
1 measure Gin
1 Measure of Brandy
½ Measure of Rose’s Lime Cordial
2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Shake the first four ingredients with ice and pour into a double old fashioned glass, over ice, top with the ginger ale and garnish with a twist of orange and a sprig of mint.
This new drink delighted the British officers (only officers were to be found in Shepheard’s hotel, squaddies were relegated elsewhere).
Joe became a legend and the Long Bar soon became known as St Joe’s Parish. Unfortunately for Joe, in 1952 Egypt’s Nationalists set fire to a number of British and foreign owned businesses, including Shepheard’s Hotel. Joe was working at the time and after escaping from the inferno he was quoted by a reporter as being “slightly ruffled and really annoyed”. Joe was an Egyptian Jew of Italian heritage that had trained as a chemist. He served and drank with Churchill, mixed with the 'great and the good', was imprisoned by General Nasser and finally exiled, on suspicion of espionage.
Joe at the Long Bar, Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo (Image courtesy of Grand Hotels of Egypt)
His story did not end there, thankfully. He was tracked down and hired by Conrad Hilton and was soon back behind the bar, this time in Puerto Rico. Mixing and shaking for the movie stars and socialites who were flying in. Later Conrad moved him to Cuba to open a new bar in Havana. Less than a year later he was again caught up in a revolution as Castro took over the island. His philosophic outlook, after these two revolutions was stoic “Mix well but shake politics”.
So, let’s mix ‘The Suffering Bastard’ and raise a toast to Mr Scialom – survivor of two revolutions, imprisonment and exile. You will be pleased to know that Joe eventually retired to Florida – after working in London, Paris, Rome, Istanbul and finally Manhattan.