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Podcast Summary:

“Anyway, I’ll Drink to That” is a Boozn Sam’s production, exploring the fun, quirky, and fascinating tales of drinks (Suffering Bastard Cocktail in this episode) that define culture, history and the world. Every drink has a story to tell, and I’m going to tell it…as true as I can. Hosted by Sam, from Boozn Sam’s. Saddle up with a good cocktail and give me a few minutes of your time for a mystery surrounding a drink that changed the world.

Episode 16 Details:

A famous media mogul, after fame and success in the US, finally met his match battling the fiesty Italians. He walked away a brusied and beaten, but with a drink to ease his pain. 

Transcript of Podcast:

*This is the entire podcast episode in written form. Do not read if you want the audio version to be spoiled.

The heat from the bonfire felt nice on Norman’s hands. He piled more fuel on the open flames and watched the fire leapt to life, a long train of smoke drifting peacefully into the sky. January was arguably the coldest month of the year, and while the temps were still warm in comparison to Michigan, where Norman grew up, he’d spent so much of his adult life in other climates, that he’d acclimated to the temperature difference and appreciated the warmth. 

It was 50 degrees out. Not so cold that he’d lose limbs from frostbite, or even need to wear anything more than a thick sweater, which is what he had on now. Jeans and a sweater, non-descript in color and style, a comfortable outfit for the setting.

Others joined him around the fire and he gave a nod. No words needed to be said. They were all there for a specific reason. They stared into the burning fire, listening to the crackling and burning, then, seeing that they needed more fuel, walked away to grab some. 

Norman stood, looking at the world around him, enamored with the moment. He’d grown up in Bloomfield, Michigan, a town of around 4,000 people. Small in comparison to where he was now. But, Norman always had a bright future. After high school he went to Harvard and, upon graduation in 1941, found himself volunteering for the navy, after the horrors of Pearl Harbor occurred. 

After searching the Atlantic Coast in a yacht for Nazi Submarines, and with the war over, he ended up at the Naval War College for more schooling. That schooling took him around the world and opened up doors he never could have imagined. 

He walked through door after door, until he came to this one, and, like he’d done every time before, walked through it too. Now, he was living the life. The city sprawling out before him, a fire at his finger tips, newly married and deeply in love…what more could he ask for?

Norman pondered this as he poked at the coals and ashes of the fire, helping them to burn. He hated the way an unattended fire didn’t burn even, leaving unburnt chunks smoldering or clumped and sitting on top of dead ash the next day. 

He was particular about his fires, and wanted to make sure he left no trace. 

The 6 men that had left now returned, bringing more fuel for the fire. Then they went to the edge of the property and looked out at the people. They were flooding the streets, following behind trucks loaded full with barrels . 

They weren’t the only one having a fire today. In fact, on this relatively odd occurrence, there were more people having fires, than not having fires. Alas, given the day, Saturday, and the weather, clear but with a chill in the air, it made sense. Today was a perfect day for a bonfire. 

People snaked down the alleyway, cutting between the building across from them owned by his British neighbors, and his place. Norman watched them with fascination then focused once more on his task of stoking the fire.

The flames leapt to life once more and a feeling of satisfaction passed through him. Maybe, he’d go for a drink after this. A reward for cleaning out all of this old junk and burning it to ash. The place was looking tidier already. Clean. Just the way he wanted it. 

Although it felt a little early for spring cleaning, he didn’t mind being ahead of the game. And the reward too…Norman’s mouth just about starting salivating at thoughts of that tasty, complicated drink. He struggled to think of anything else in that moment. 

And of course he had to stop by the place where the drink started. Hopefully Joe himself would be working and he’d get a Joe original. That’d be a real treat. As if by instinct, his eyes wandered away from the fire and looked out, seeing if he could see the hotel with its long bar. It was called the long bar because of the agonizingly long time it took to get a drink there. 

Norman gasped. His eyes widened. As it turns out, he could see the hotel from here. This hotel too, was famous. One of the most famous in the world from the time the doors opened until now, and, it was the most popular hotel in the city, by leaps and bounds. 

It was just over 100 years old at this point, with a double set of brick stairs leading up to the Porta co-cher, the overhanging entranceway. On top of the overhand was a patio, and not one, not two, but three additional stories including the patio level. 

Large flags always snapped crisp and new from the two corners of the Porta co-cher, bearing the logo of the hotel. 

Samuel, not to be confused with this Samuel, had started the hotel all those years ago. He’d risen from being a subpar pastry chef, to creating and running this marvel of a hotel. Until he sold it, that is, to Philip, and retired back to England, where he’d originally come from.

Beautiful stained glass windows covered the building. Lavish Persian carpets draped the floors. There were gardens exploding with gorgeous flowers and plants, smelling fresh and delicious. Terraces over looking the streets below. And even giant granite pillars constructed with resemblance to Ancient Egyptian temples. 

They were in Egypt, after all, so the tasteful nod to the temples, made perfect sense.

Every night, without fail, US officers would mingle with British and French officers, twirling beautiful women in their flowing night gowns around the dance floor at the extravagant dances that took place there. There was also the drink that originated there as medicine, a hangover cure, that turned into a sensational hit amongst all the military that rolled through here. 

The drink and hotel became so famous that they took on a legendary status, with soldiers from the front asking for buckets of the drink to be sent their direction, and even one Nazi General quipping that he would be drinking a champagne in the…Shepaerd Hotel in no time. 

Norman hadn’t been to a nightly dance in a while. Now that he was settled down and married that sort of living wasn’t for him. He was a committed man, after all. But, the drink still sounded good. And after the day he’d had, he’d want one.

The problem, of course, was that as he looked at the Shepaerd Hotel and gasped, he was also looking at the hotel engulfed in flames. It had been set a blaze. This iconic landmark, known the world over, was turning to ash before his very eyes, flames leaping high into the sky and sending up billowing plumes of smoke. 

Further down the street British soldiers, off duty, had exited the front doors of their club, The Jockey’s Club, since it was on fire too, and, to Norman’s horror, they were forced back inside the burning building to die. 

Norman’s heart raced and he looked at his own meager fire. Would he be able to finish in time? He stuffed more fuel in the fire and looked at the walls around his place. 

The crowd, the rioters, had moved further down the alley, between the British Embassy and his place. They were scaling the walls now. Norman’s heart was in his throat and he furiously tossed more fuel into the fire. He had to work faster. Leave no trace.

The six men had returned to the roof again, this time drawing the pistols from their hips and aiming at the rioters working to scale the walls of the American Embassy. The six men held their ground. That’s what they were trained to do and they didn’t plan to open fire on anyone until they stepped foot on American soil.

Suddenly people were leaping off of the walls, running at full speed away, disbanding, the trucks carrying containers of gasoline to burn the city to the ground, revving and accelerating away.   

Norman craned his head the opposite direction and breathed a massive sigh of relief. It was the military. After hours of the city being left to the rioters, and the rioters marking and burning buildings to the ground, in violent protest against British Forces and the 50 Egyptian soldiers they’d killed two days prior, help had arrived. 

That didn’t mean anger had subsided, though. The British had controlled this country for 70 years now, in large part to maintain control over a canal, the Suez Canal, which was an important trade route from the South Atlantic to the South Indian Ocean and cutting 5,500 miles off of a very important route that allowed for European and Asian trade.

The Egyptians, needless to say, were sick of foreign control, especially from the British. They were sick of not receiving any benefit from the canal that went through their country and benefited most the countries that controlled and utilized these waterways. 

So, while they may have ran off, high tailing it away from the American Embassy as Egyptian military forces arrived, and leaving 6 armed marines and a foreign officer stationed there named Norman Getsinger to breath a sigh of relief, they were not out of the woods just yet. 

Things would get worse before they got better. Which was why Norman continued to incinerate the top-secret documents within the embassy, via the fire he kept roaring on top of the embassy roof. 

As Cairo burned around him,

Taking with it 850 buildings, many of them marked for destruction the night prior with a large “X” by rioters.

This was Black Saturday, and not the sort of fire he enjoyed sitting next to.

The famous Cairo riots of 1952

That took with them the legendary Shepheard’s Hotel, named after the founder Samuel Shepheard,

And buried in ash the long bar where bartender Joe Scialom invented his famous drink

A drink that consisted of:

The Suffering Bastard Cocktail

  • 1 ounce of brandy or, if they find it, whiskey
  • 1 ounce of gin
  • 1/2 an ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 dashes of angostura bitters
  • And topped off with ginger beer

A stiff drink, with a refreshing twist aimed at curing the hangovers of soldiers living it up in Cairo during WWII.

The Suffering Bar Steward. (Suffering Bastard Cocktail)

Which… if you, take out the space in the last two words, and say it fast enough, it sounds like the more common, but inappropriate and…illegitimate…name of the drink

The…Suffering Barsteward. (Suffering Bastard Cocktail)

Anyway…I’ll drink to that.