The Painkiller Cocktail



The Painkiller cocktail is similar to a Pina Colada, featuring tropical flavors of coconut and pineapple. The cocktail sets itself apart from its slightly flabby and over-sweet cousin with the addition of fresh orange juice, and the fragrant punch of fresh grated nutmeg.

The original Painkiller recipe was created in the 1970s at the Soggy Dollar Bar at White Bay on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands (pictured below). In 1989, Pusser’s Rum Ltd. filed a trademark for both the drink’s name and its formulation, functionally branding it as the brand’s signature cocktail. The company then went on to enforce this trademark against a bar in New York City, drawing the ire of bartenders.

Interestingly, this cocktail was originally made using Cruzan Rum from the nearby American Virgin Islands, which is light in body and character. Pusser’s, on the other hand, is a much heavier Guyanese-style rum with a great deal of body and a sweet, earthy flavor, reminiscent of the Demerara sugar from the river valley where it is produced.



  • 2 oz Rum
  • 4 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz Orange Juice
  • 1 oz Cream of Coconut (like Coco Lopez)


  • Fresh Grated Nutmeg
  • Pineapple Frond(s) (optional)

Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Continue to shake until you hear and feel the texture of the contents change, which will signal that the rich coconut cream has been aerated and incorporated into the juices and spirits. Then, crack the shaker tins, strain into a bucket glass (double rocks), hurricane glass, or tiki mug over crushed ice, garnish, and enjoy.



Variations on the Painkiller cocktail depend quite a lot on how you feel about Pina Coladas and whether or not you subscribe to Pussers Ltd.’s claim that the cocktail must use their rum.

Most Pina Colada recipes are pretty straight-forward: equal parts cheap rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut, maybe some fresh pineapple for body – blended. For a drink that’s meant to embody the spirit of summer or of the Caribbean, there’s not a lot of light, bright notes to be found. As such, most people who look at the Painkiller cocktail recipe will instantly recognize it as a “Pina Colada for grown-ups.” The addition of orange juice, fresh nutmeg, and rum with a sense of place truly set it apart as superior to its more mainstream cousin.

For most people, the first way they start “riffing” on a Painkiller is to experiment with a different style of rum. The most logical direction to go with this is to swap in a Jamaican-style rum, which can approximate the body of the Pusser’s rum, while also adding fruity esters and (often) a higher proof. If you change much else about the Painkiller, you’re either backsliding into Pina Colada purgatory or bringing enough acidity to the table to make it more of a “Tiki-style” drink. So once you locate your favorite rum to use, mix yourself up a Painkiller and appreciate its mellow, creamy perfection.