The Painkiller Cocktail

Your cocktail calendar entry for: August
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Greetings, drunkards and drunkards in training.  It’s August 29 and the fact is it’s National Chop Suey Day.  Needless to say we are not using this space to commemorate Michael Jackson’s birthday.  Instead, today will be the Painkiller cocktail.

No indeed.  Today we turn toward remedies.  If, like your faithful correspondent, you may have experienced a minor injury involving stitches you need a remedy.  You’re home, you’re bored…’s time for amusement……and since it’s summer it also time to enter the tiki dimension.

Now when we’re speaking of remedies it’s important to properly calibrate.  That is why, as step one, we cast a dismissive glance at the bottle of acetaminophen (Tylenol) a well-meaning doctor may have prescribed and toss it deep into the kitchen junk drawer, a place from which nothing ever emerges.  This stuff, you see, just doesn’t play nice with your liver and cocktails so it’s off the acceptable remedy list.

Still feel the need for a small tablet?  Sure, pop a Motrin or your favorite NSAID.  Narcotics?  You’re on your own there, but generally speaking it is advisable to make sure you’re still breathing later.  So perhaps that’s not such an advisable combination.

The Painkiller Cocktail

Onward then.  Today we are going to embrace a most appropriate cocktail and one of the most beloved in the world of tiki:  the Painkiller.

The Painkiller was first created in the 1970s by Daphne Henderson at the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands.  The bar’s name was appropriate:  located right on the beach at White Bay on the island of Jost van Dyke it had no dock on the beach, thereby forcing patrons to disembark their boats directly into the shallows and producing some pretty soggy dollar bills.

It also turns out that the founder of Pusser’s Rum, Charles Tobias, was a friend of Daphne.  Something of a scoundrel, he attempted to coax the recipe from her but she held it as a trade secret.  Eventually he managed to swim a drink back onto his boat and into his kitchen on the island of Tortuga, where he recreated a similar recipe.  Challenging Daphne on a bet he actually won a direct bar-customer taste test contest against her recipe right there at the Soggy Dollar, and went on to trademark the name and recipe.  He does at least give Daphne credit with a byline in their printed media:  “As inspired by Daphne at the Soggy Dollar Bar at White Bay on Jost Van Dyke.”

So whether or not Charles really was Daphne’s friend in appropriating her drink inspiration for his rum brand, he did at least turn the Painkiller into an iconic drink forever immortalized in cocktail history.  So let’s have one or more.

Painkiller cocktail


So whether or not Charles really was Daphne’s friend in appropriating her drink inspiration for his rum brand, he did at least turn the Painkiller into an iconic drink forever immortalized in cocktail history. So let’s have one or more. In this specific cocktail the quantity of rum you use is a personal decision. The juices are always mixed 4:1:1 for pineapple, orange and cream of coconut, but the rum can vary from 2-4 ounces. Below is the basic recipe, but feel free to double the rum if extra analgesia is required.
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  • Collins or Highball Glass
  • Straw


  • 2 oz. Rum Obviously Pusser’s is often called for but feel free to use any other Virgin Islands rum. A darkish rum.
  • 4 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. coconut cream
  • 1 oz. fresh orange juice
  • Garnish: fresh nutmeg and pineapple wedge if you got ‘em. Just sayin’. Deep inside you know what’s right.
  • A straw is entirely acceptable here if you so choose.
  • Little umbrellas are frowned upon.


  • Add all ingredients into your trusty shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  • Strain over ice.
  • Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and other accoutrements as described above.
  • Drink.
  • Rinse and repeat.
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