You know what, the Suffering Bastard just isn’t really a very good drink. Bourbon, Gin, Lime, Angostura, and Ginger Beer?
Sounds about as bad as the hangover it was supposed to be curing.
But, as mixologists, I think we can do something about this, but we’ll need to plan ahead a bit.
I think we’re looking at about a year process, from start to finish.
First begin by aging your own Whiskey. Purchase a case of unaged whisky (White Dog) and a charred barrel. Both of these items are now for sale, conveniently, at many of your better liquor stores.
About 6 months in to your whisky aging process, you’ll want to start your gin. You can either go the infusion route, like Jeffrey Morgenthaler, or you can purchase a still and distill it yourself. Instructions for distillation are beyond the scope of this article, but there are many online forums which should be of help. You’ll be able to find all sorts of interesting spices and herbs at witchery stores and upscale groceries.
In either case, infusion or distillation, I suggest you discard the common knowledge about what a gin should be and feel free to improvise with whatever catches your fancy. Elderflower, go! Rangpur Lime, go! Lemon Verbena, why not?
Once your gin is ready, you’re going to want to pull your whiskey from the barrel, blend it with the gin, and return it to the barrel. The additional months, or years, you allow these spirits to marry will produce a truly superior end product.
About a month out from when you want to serve your cocktail, you’ll need to start the infusion for your bitters. Check any number of articles on doing this, from Jamie Boudreau to Robert Heugel. Once you’ve made your bitters, of course using a Buechner Funnel to vacuum filter them, you’ll want to again pull your gin and whisky from the barrel, add the bitters, and return the mixture to the barrel. I suggest erring on the side of generosity. Really, if it isn’t bitter, it isn’t a cocktail.
About this time, you’re going to want to start promoting your genius new version of the Suffering Bastard. I would suggest hiring a full time publicist and hitting the local bars. Maybe even take out a few ads in national papers or magazines. Of course you’ll want to attend the major trade shows, Tales of the Cocktail, Manhattan Cocktail Classic, etc. just to press the flesh and give that personal touch to your presence. You’re not just a brand, after all. Don’t forget to sponsor a few panels at these conferences. That kind of exposure, a bunch of drunk people in a hotel conference room, is worth its weight in gold.
After doing some publicity, you’ll probably have come onto the radar of the original creator of the drink, Trad’r Vick, and his organization. Be sure to ignore any and all communications from them. You are a drinks artist, not a business man, there’s no reason to talk to those suits.
Next you’ll need to make your Ginger Beer. After distilling your own gin, making ginger beer is a snap. Check this recipe from Good Eats: Making Ginger Beer 48 hours? Pah, most of that is just sitting around in your cabinet.
Why do Trad’r Vick and his lawyers keep calling you? Just ignore them.
You’ll want to start the last minute publicity for your drink unveiling. Be sure to rent a space of suitable gravitas and capacity for your needs. Invite everyone you know, sending simultaneous and identical tweets, facebook invitations, and email blasts.
Who is that knocking?
What? Trad’r Vick and a subpoena? Agh, they are trampling on your creativity! Saying they own the Tradermark to the Suffering Bastard! Not only that, but telling you your drink isn’t even a Suffering Bastard, the Suffering Bastard, they claim, properly contains: Trad’r Vick Mai Tai Mix, two kinds of Rum, and a cucumber peel garnish. Pah, don’t they know you are referencing the original Suffering Bastard, created by Joe Scialom during World War II at the Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo, Egypt? Philistines!
Well, you’ll show them, change the name of your drink, it bears no resemblance to their crappy “original” Suffering Bastard anyway. In honor of your self, you call it the Poor Long Suffering Mixologist, or P.L.S.M., for short.
Aged Spirits ready, Ginger Beer on tap, you’re ready to go. The last thing you need to do is source the fresh ingredients.
Be sure and spare no expense finding the exact correct variety of mint for this. Thyme Mint, Bergamot Mint, whatever you think will work best.
Not to mention finding the most obscure variety of lime or citrus. I’d suggest thinking about Seville Oranges or perhaps Rangpur Limes.
Nearly ready, all your friends have replied and are showing up. The bar or concert hall is primed for your 100% hand made, self aged, craft cocktail PLSM!
Last minute details, last minute details!
Maybe you should try the drink?
Oh, bleah, this really isn’t a very good drink. You know, the Suffering Bastard wasn’t very good to start out with, and it tastes like you’ve actually made it worse. What were you thinking?
Notify your publicist, stop the presses, call off your event. Well, when life hands you lemons, it’s time to, to… Write about it. You’re going to write a book (or blog) about your cocktail adventure, instead of actually serving drinks. That’s where the REAL money is!
I think that qualifies as a post about Niche Spirits, don’t you?
Thanks to Adventures in Cocktails for hosting!
Check out their site for more posts on similar themes.