Brush Up on Your Liquid History with the Story of the Pusser’s Painkiller
The Painkiller cocktail got its start in the British Virgin Islands at a quaint bar known as the Soggy Dollar. The six-seat bar has no dock—the only way to get there is to swim up to it—so your dollars get wet (hence the name). The story goes that an English bartender by the name of Daphne Henderson concocted a secret recipe using Pusser’s Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut, and nutmeg to create the cocktail that came to be known as the Painkiller. When Daphne served her drink at the Soggy Dollar, its deliciousness could not be disputed. People from around the islands and beyond began showing up at Daphne’s humble bar for a taste of the “Painkiller” they’d heard so much about. Amongst those who took notice was Pusser’s Rum founder, Charles Tobias. Charles grew curious about the cocktail that was made using Pusser’s Rum, so he decided to visit Daphne at the bar and try it for himself.
Charles became a quick fan of Daphne’s drink, and the two became good friends. However, despite their friendship, Daphne refused to dispell her secret Painkiller recipe to Charles. It wasn’t for another two years, after an afternoon of “killing the pain,” that Charles managed to (somehow) bring a Painkiller cocktail from the bar to his boat, through the surf, and back to his home on Tortola. There, he got to work attempting to dissect and recreate the libation. After hours of work, he settled on a “4-1-1-1” ratio of 4 parts pineapple juice, 1 part orange juice, 1 part cream of coconut, and 1 part Pusser’s Rum. Charles returned to the bar the following week and announced to patrons that he had uncovered the secret recipe! He mixed up his own version of a Painkiller at the bar, which differed ever-so-subtly from Daphne’s original recipe. The patrons at the bar all had a taste and unanimously agreed they preferred Charles’ version, as it was a bit less sweet.
Charles began serving the Painkiller cocktail at his own pub and ultimately took it around the world with him as he sailed, all while giving credit to Daphne as the inspiration behind the drink. The rest, as they say, is (liquid) history.