The ultimate tropical libation, the Painkiller drink, is said to cure what ails you. Made with dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut and a hint of nutmeg, this classic tiki cocktail is the ultimate refresher for summer.
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Painkiller drink recipe
What’s one way to make summer feel more like summer? Tropical vacations. And tropical vacations mean tropical drinks.
The ultimate summer cocktail is the Painkiller, which features dark rum, two bright fruit juices and a splash of creamy coconut.
With dark rum, orange, pineapple and coconut, this classic tiki drink is brimming with tropical flavors and it’s going to be your drink of the summer.
Why you’ll love this recipe
You are going to adore this classic tiki cocktail recipe:
- The Painkiller cocktail is like a beachy, tropical vacation and it is oh-so-delicious.
- With just a handful of ingredients, it’s easy to make at home.
- It’s a good classic cocktail every drink lover should try once.
Though this drink probably tastes best with a tropical sunset in view, you can also enjoy Painkillers for pool parties, bachelorette parties and backyard luaus.
What is a Painkiller drink?
The Painkiller drink is a classic tiki cocktail made with dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and cream of coconut. Freshly grated nutmeg on top adds a subtle spiced aroma to every sip.
The drink was invented in the 1970s by Daphne Henderson at the Soggy Dollar Bar on White Bay on the Island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. The bar’s name comes from the fact that it’s accessible by boat, but customers have to swim to shore.
Charles Tobias, a friend of Henderson’s and founder of Pusser’s Rum, asked her for the Soggy Dollar Painkiller recipe. Henderson kept it a secret, so Tobias developed his own version of the original Painkiller recipe and trademarked the name and the recipe as his own.
Each year, National Painkiller Day is celebrated on April 15, when many bars will offer specials on the Painkiller cocktail — or you can make this recipe at home.
Tools & glassware
A microplane or citrus zester is key for grating the nutmeg over top. You’ll also want a cutting board and a sharp knife to cut your garnishes.
This tropical drink is usually served in a highball glass, but it’s not unusual to find Painkillers served in tiki mugs if you order one at a tiki bar.
Love tiki drinks? Check out some of my favorite tiki mugs.
Here are the main ingredients you’ll need to make this Painkiller cocktail recipe:
Dark rum: There are different types and colors of rum on the shelves of the liquor store, but you’ll want to pick up dark rum, which is a staple in many tiki drinks like the Mai Tai.
Dark rum is rich with a caramel flavor. Pusser’s brand is most traditional (Pusser’s Painkiller is their signature drink), but the dark rum from Plantation, Bacardi or Cruzan would all work well.
Check out Rum 101 for a crash course on this spirit, the top brands to buy and what else you can make with it.
Pineapple juice: You can purchase this key ingredient from the grocery store, in the refrigerated section near the orange juice. Canned pineapple juice comes in handy if you don’t want to wind up with a lot of extra juice.
If you have a cold press juicer or blender, you can make your own pineapple juice with fresh pineapple. Strain out the pulp with a fine-mesh strainer to get juice.
Orange juice: Fresh-squeezed will have the best flavor, but store-bought OJ works well too. Avoid getting the kind with pulp, as it will float to the top of the drink and alter the texture.
Cream of coconut: This adds a touch of natural coconut flavor to your drink. It’s optional, as you will get plenty of coconut flavor from the syrup, but recommended. Coco Lopez is the brand most tiki bartenders love to use; there’s also Coco Real Gourmet or you can make cream of coconut from coconut milk at home. Bear in mind that cream of coconut is different from coconut cream. Another substitute is coconut water.
Nutmeg: This drink gets a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg on top, which gives it an aromatic allure. You’ll want to purchase whole nutmeg and use a zester to make a fine powder right over top of the finished drink. You can substitute a pinch of ground nutmeg from a spice jar.
Variations and substitutions
Try one of these variations on this recipe:
No fresh nutmeg? Use a pinch of ground nutmeg from the jar.
Virgin Painkiller: Substitute the dark rum with a rum-like zero-proof spirit such as Ritual rum alternative to make a non-alcoholic version.
Spiced Painkiller: Use spiced rum instead of dark rum to infuse even more spiced flavor. Homemade spiced rum kicks it up a notch.
How to make a Painkiller drink
Want to know how to make this Painkiller recipe? Let’s take it step by step:
To a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and cream of coconut. Shake well.
Strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Then grate nutmeg over top (or sprinkle it on).
Garnish it with some sliced orange and sliced pineapple to finish it off.
Tips & tricks
Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:
- Use fresh orange juice and pineapple juice for a leveled-up experience.
- Freshly grated nutmeg will be more aromatic than the kind from the jar. It also looks prettier.
- Garnish the drink with an orange slice, pineapple leaf and/or a pineapple wedge.
What to serve with tiki drinks
Tiki drinks are delicious with your favorite tropical foods that feature pineapple and coconut.
Start the meal with a Painkiller plus chips and pineapple salsa.
The Painkiller drink is made with dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and cream of coconut. It typically gets a sprinkling of grated nutmeg on top and is garnished with orange slices or pineapple wedges.
While they are both pineapple, coconut and rum drinks, there are a few key differences between the painkiller and the piña colada drinks. Piña coladas are made with white rum and blended with ice, and the painkiller is shaken with dark rum and poured over ice. The flavor is slightly different too: The piña colada is sweeter, while the painkiller has a more complex and robust flavor.
Painkillers are tiki cocktails. Made with dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and cream of coconut, these drinks are full of tropical flavor.
More tropical cocktails
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- 4 ounces pineapple juice
- 2 ounces dark rum
- 1 ounce orange juice
- 1 ounce cream of coconut such as Coco Lopez
- pinch whole nutmeg grated
- pineapple wedge for garnish
- orange slice for garnish
- To a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add pineapple juice, dark rum, orange juice and cream of coconut. Shake well.
- Strain into a tall glass filled with ice.
- Grate nutmeg over top (or sprinkle on ground nutmeg).
- Garnish with a pineapple wedge and an orange slice.
- Use fresh orange juice and pineapple juice for a leveled-up experience.
- Freshly grated nutmeg will be more aromatic than the kind from the jar. It also looks prettier!
- Garnish the drink with an orange slice and a pineapple wedge. A pineapple leaf or two also looks gorgeous.
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