Welcome To Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, The Painkiller!
Greetings, Wonketteers! I'm Hooper, your bartender. Today, we're pouring one of the best sellers at Tiki Underground – The Painkiller. Along the way, we'll talk about betrayal, revenge, litigation, and ecological sustainability. (Lord, I love tiki. The stories are almost as wild as the drinks.) Here's the recipe.
2 oz. Pusser's Rum
4 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 oz. Orange Juice
1 oz. Creme de Coconut
Shake and strain into a hurricane glass. Garnish with pineapple bark and grated nutmeg.
This cocktail was originally crafted in the 1970s by Daphne Henderson, owner of the Soggy Dollar Bar in the Virgin Islands. One of her loyal customers was Charles Tobias, an entrepreneur who would go on to found Pusser's Rum. He tried several times to learn the recipe from her, but she kept it to herself as a trade secret. Charles would drink a lot of Painkillers at the Soggy Dollar while spending time with Daphne. Eventually, he managed to reverse engineer the recipe … which he then trademarked, along with the name of the cocktail. Since then, Pusser's has sued several bars and bartenders for selling Painkillers without Pusser's, going so far as to force the Painkiller bar in New York to change its name to PKNY. Pusser's Rum is still rather proud of this turn of events, and brags about it on its website in a rather cringey fashion.
Now, Pusser's Rum is a superb blended dark rum that is extremely tasty. And I do not care to introduce Yr Editrix to Pusser's lawyers. So yes indeed, this is a Painkiller cocktail that uses the one and only Pusser's Rum, May Their Flag Wave Forever More. That being said, if this recipe inspires you to make a cocktail at home for your own personal consumption, you can use whatever rum you like, and call the drink whatever you'd like as well. I've seen some other rum brands publish recipes for Brain Drillers, Phyllis Dillers … let your imagination run wild. I'd love to hear what you come up with.
Ingredient shot. The Painkiller disappeared very, very quickly after this photo was taken. Matthew Hooper
Let's talk ingredients:
Pusser's Rum: It's worth noting that this is the basic, "level 1" version of the cocktail. At "level 2," we'll add a shot for 3 ounces of rum total. By the time we hit level 4, it's as much rum as juice in your cup. This drink will kill your pain no matter how much you're hurting.
If you feel inspired to make some other cocktail that is not a Painkiller, I'd suggest using Plantation Special Dark or Hamilton 86. You do want to use a dark rum. A spiced rum, or a white rum, will not work well.
Pineapple Juice: Canned is best – fresh juice doesn't have the right concentration or thickness. I use Dole.
Orange Juice: Use your favorite. No pulp is best.
Creme de Coconut: I prefer to make this myself instead of buying premade crème de coconut. Check the Asian section of your local supermarket for coconut milk – a lot of grocery stores will only carry Goya coconut milk, and screw that guy. Also, Thai Kitchen offers organic and low-calorie coconut milk, which are options worth exploring.
Currently, I'm keeping my house crème de coconut recipe simple – 1 can of coconut milk, 1 cup sugar, stir until the sugar melts and you smell the coconut in the pan. It's not as thick as the commercial stuff, but the coconut flavor is stronger, and it's easier to pour.
Technique: I haven't really talked about how to shake a cocktail properly yet. Working at Tiki Underground has definitely sharpened my game on this front.
Professionals generally use a "Boston" or "tin-on-tin" setup – that's two metal tumblers, one smaller than the other. Pour all your ingredients into the small tin, put the ice in the large tin. Quickly and carefully tip the large tin over the small tin. The edge of the large tin and small tin should be flush with each other on one side. Give the bottom of the large tin a quick slap, to seal the two tins together. Shake both tins for at least 10 seconds – I generally stop when the large tin feels icy to the touch. Put the bottom of the large tin on the bar, and squeeze the lip of the large tumbler so it bends just a little. You should hear a soft, moist kiss as the seal between the tumblers breaks. Gently push the small tumbler while holding the large tumbler in place until the small tin comes free, and pour from the large tumbler. If you can't visualize this, here's a video to help.
Garnishes: The nutmeg is mandatory on this drink. Without the spice notes, a painkiller is a pina colada with orange. The nutmeg completely changes the cocktail, rounding out the flavor profile beautifully.
You can garnish this drink with a wedge of pineapple. However, if your local grocer has a fruit and salad counter, you can probably ask the staff to give you some pineapple bark for free. This is the outside skin of the pineapple, the stuff they carve off before coring and slicing up fresh fruit. You're using something they'd throw in the garbage, and you don't have to pay for it – it's a win all around.
A rum-free version of this cocktail would be a great non-alcoholic summer drink. I'd love to add some dark sugar notes to the glass – I'd use a brown sugar syrup as well as the crème de coconut. Don't skimp – make homemade crème de coconut, and garnish the non-alcoholic version just like the standard cocktail. Alcohol-free cocktails should never be treated as an afterthought.
In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender – please donate to Wonkette below! I'm currently behind the stick at Tiki Underground in Hudson, Ohio. Feel free to stop by. And if you'd like to buy some crème de coconut, pineapple juice, or even a solid cocktail shaker, please use the links above to do your Amazon shopping — or, for anything else, this link below.