Painkiller

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Cocktail History

The Painkiller is a classic tiki cocktail that was created in the 1970s by Daphne Henderson at the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands.

According to cocktail lore, the bar was named for its customers’ habit of paying their tabs with wet dollar bills because the beach had no dock, which forced them to walk up to the shore through the shallow water. One such customer named Charles Tobias, the founder of Pusser’s Rum, tried to get Daphne to divulge her recipe on his many visits to the bar, but she refused. So he eventually recreated a version, named it the Pusser’s Painkiller, and went so far as to copyright the name and recipe, claiming it as his own and even taking bars to court when they listed the cocktail’s name on their menus.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Dark Rum: This is the base spirit. The official recipe for a Painkiller calls for Pusser’s Royal Navy Rum, but we couldn’t find a bottle in our area so we used a split base of pineapple rum and Jamaican rum.

Pineapple Juice: This adds sweet and fruity pineapple flavor. We prefer fresh pineapple juice, but you can substitute canned juice if that’s easier than juicing an entire pineapple.

Orange Juice: This adds sweet and slightly sour citrus flavor for balance. We use fresh citrus juice because it’s less bitter than the bottled stuff and tastes better.

Cream of Coconut: This is a thick cream made from coconut milk. We used Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut for its rich flavor and silky texture.

Grated Nutmeg: This is one of the garnishes. It’s sprinkled on top to add a hint of flavor and spiced aroma.

Pineapple Wedge: This is the other garnish. It adds fresh pineapple aroma and flavor.

Tasting Notes

The Painkiller features a delightful nutmeg aroma, the unmistakable taste of pineapple at the forefront with significant coconut flavor coming in slightly behind, plus notes of banana from the rum, a slight burn on the finish, and citrus to round out the pineapple.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: This tropical cocktail is just what we needed after -30 below temperatures this week. Kendall thought it was creamy and enjoyable, but she could take it or leave it compared to other tiki drinks. And Alex enjoyed another version he found more than this one that cut back on the pineapple juice to better balance the flavors.

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐
“Though I find this cocktail to be pretty delicious in its execution, it unfortunately lacks a bit of the personality I tend to look for in a tiki cocktail. The combination of palatable rum, pineapple and orange juices, and coconut is tasty, for sure, but a fruity and sweet combination of those juices is hard to mess up. Where it lacks a bit, in my opinion, is how inoffensive it ends up being, with no flavors or complexity really popping out at all. It’s a drink that will please the masses, but long-time cocktail nerds may find it underwhelming.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐
“As far as tiki drinks go, I thought this one was alright. It’s not very complex compared to others I’ve tried, which is probably why it’s so popular. I mostly tasted sweetened coconut, and that was about all. I’ve come to love tropicals drinks that feature a tapestry of unique flavors, so I’d choose one like the Greena Colada or Ginger Inferno instead. They use more ingredients, but the result is worth it the labor and price tag, in my opinion.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from The Essential Cocktail Book: The Guide to Modern Drinks by the editors of PUNCH and Megan Krigbaum.

AuthorThe Essential Cocktail BookPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 2 oz Pusser's Royal Navy Rum
 4 oz Pineapple Juice
 1 oz Orange Juice
 1 oz Cream of Coconut
 Grated Nutmeg
 1 Pineapple Wedge

Method
1

Add rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut to a shaker.

2

Dry shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Pour into a lowball glass or tiki mug.

4

Top with crushed ice.

5

Garnish with grated nutmeg and pineapple wedge.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 2 oz Pusser's Royal Navy Rum
 4 oz Pineapple Juice
 1 oz Orange Juice
 1 oz Cream of Coconut
 Grated Nutmeg
 1 Pineapple Wedge

Directions

Method
1

Add rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut to a shaker.

2

Dry shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Pour into a lowball glass or tiki mug.

4

Top with crushed ice.

5

Garnish with grated nutmeg and pineapple wedge.

Painkiller

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More Tiki Cocktails

If you like this tiki cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Privateer: A tequila cocktail made with passion fruit syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice, smoke and salt bitters, rosemary, and Tajín

Ginger Inferno: A rum cocktail made with ginger liqueur, velvet falernum liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, a lime slice, and candied ginger

Brancolada: A rum cocktail made with Fernet-Branca Menta, pineapple juice, orange juice, coconut cream, mint, and an orange wedge

Fog Cutter: A rum, brandy, gin, and sherry cocktail made with triple sec, lemon juice, orgeat syrup, an orange peel, mint, and an orchid blossom

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