Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Painkiller: A Caribbean traveler's cocktail

My first taste of the cocktail called the "Painkiller" crossed my taste buds in 2006, during a visit to the Virgin Islands. That was the Beginning and the End. I've never gone ga-ga for sweet tropical drinks, the kind that have hunks of fresh fruit and an umbrella dangling from them. But when it came to Painkillers, it was love at first taste.

Maybe it's because the concoction, when made right, is not overly sweet or acidic. Besides rum, it's made with a mix of pineapple and orange juices and cream of coconut. But the fruity acidity of the juices and the creaminess of the cream of coconut offset each other, so it's neither too acidic or too creamy. And something about the mix disguises the rum, so you don't know just how much pain you're actually killing.

Painkillers are the signature drink of the Virgin Islands (both U.S. and British ones), and rumor has it the cocktail got its start at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the BVIs—so named because you have to swim to shore to get to the bar, thereby getting your dollars all soggy. Perhaps that's why I like them so much; the drink is so tied to the identity of these islands that I feel like I'm in the Caribbean every time I sip one.

If you want to take a "spiritual" trip to the Virgin Islands yourself, here's the Painkiller recipe (which, as you'll see below, I put to use last weekend in Maine).

4 parts pineapple juice
1 part orange juice
1 part cream of coconut
2, 3 or 4 parts golden rum, depending on desired strength (don't use light or dark rum)

Mix well, then serve over ice cubes. Don't forget the final step: grate fresh nutmeg on top!


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Blogger avra said...

Since you'll be mixing these soon in the Bahamas, I thought you might like to experiment with tweaking your recipe. This comment is from another blog "Jimmy's Cocktail Hour", and sounds like the voice of experience:

Hi Jimmy, I just stumbled across the blog, saw the recipe and wanted to throw in my two cents. Since the original "Pusser's Pain killer" recipe is still to this day a mystery, the published version is the widely accepted reverse engineered take on one served at the Soggy Dollar Bar in Jost Van Dyke.

Having made the drink many, many times and drank them on Tortola and Jost Van Dyke I 'd like to share my recipe for what I believe is the most authentic and best tasting version of the Pain Killer.

1 oz Cream of Coconut*
2.5 oz Orange juice
2.5 oz Pusser's Rum (95 proof)**
3 oz Pineapple juice

Blend thoroughly. Serve over ice.

Garnish with nutmeg (only!).

* I suggest using a product called "coco real" it comes in a squeeze bottle. It blends uniformly and the cream doesn't solidify at chilled temperatures. The taste is exactly the same.

** If substituting use Cruzan (I actually prefer it over pusser's) and make it 3 parts instead of 2.5

Using the above recipe sweetened products are fine (actually preferred). Tropicana no pulp OJ and Dole pineapple juice work well. The published recipe is far too sweet and doesn't balance the booze (not enough). Those drinks should kick you ass when drinking them. Try it out you'll love it!


April 8, 2009 3:36 PM  
Blogger Michael Strickland said...

Avra, thanks for the comment and recipe. In my own experimentations, I have found that more than 1 oz. of orange juice makes it too acidic. And I'm not sure what Jimmy means about Pusser's recipe being secret; when I had a Painkiller on Pusser's Marina Cay, I bought the souvenir cup that it came in -- which has the recipe right on it.

I do agree with the preference of Cruzan over Pusser's rum, though....

April 9, 2009 5:52 AM  
Blogger Michael Strickland said...

Oh, and p.s. -- Yes, the right amount of rum is indeed key. Too little, and it simply sucks. Too much, and ...well, it's just too much. 3 oz. is the sweet spot for mine.

April 9, 2009 5:54 AM  

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