The Pusser’s Painkiller® Story
A version of the classic Pusser’s Painkiller® had its start at the six-seat Soggy Dollar Bar on a long stretch of white sand beach at White Bay on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. There’s no dock, so the usual way in is to swim. Of course, your dollars get wet, hence the name “Soggy Dollar Bar.”
It was owned by an English lady, Daphne Henderson. Boaters, including Pusser’s founder, Charles Tobias, came from distant places to sample her version of the Painkiller for which she’d become locally famous. The fact that Tobias had gone to The Admiralty Board of the Royal Navy and gained permission to commercialize the rum in 1979 made him curious about this deliciously concocted recipe made with Pusser’s Rum.
Daphne Henderson and Charles Tobias became good friends, but in spite of their close friendship, and no matter how he tried, she refused to divulge her secret recipe for the cocktail. Two years passed. One late Sunday afternoon, after a morning spent “killing the pain,” Tobias somehow managed to get one of her concoctions back through the surf and over the gunwale into his boat, and ultimately into his kitchen on Tortola where he lives. There we went to work trying to match her flavor as closely as possible with his own recipe, which he finally worked out to be “4-1-1-1” ratio—four parts pineapple, one part cream of coconut and one part orange juice adding Pusser’s Rum to suit.
The following Sunday, Tobias returned to her bar and announced to the patrons on hand that he had finally broken her secret. So he mixed one of his and circulated it for comments. Tobias discerned a slight difference, but thought his mixture to be better, not quite so sweet as hers, and told her so. The ten patrons gathered around the bar unanimously preferred his version to hers, and the rest is history!
Soon after, Tobias started promoting Pusser’s Painkillers® first at the Road Town Pub and then at his restaurants at West End and on Marina Cay.
But he has always given Daphne Henderson credit with a by-line in Pusser’s printed media: AS INSPIRED BY DAPHNE AT THE SOGGY DOLLAR BAR AT WHITE BAY ON JOST VAN DYKE. From this modest beginning, the fame of the Pusser’s Painkiller® has not only spread throughout the boating and sailing communities but to the bars, corner pubs, chain restaurants, and some of the finest cocktail venues throughout the world.
The “Million Dollar Cocktail” Painkiller® has sold more than 140,000 at Pusser’s Caribbean Grille in Annapolis last year!
In every sense, the Painkiller has grown to be an iconic cocktail! It has been termed the “Modern Classic” or “the Most Famous Caribbean Cocktail” as people from all around the globe take pleasure in sharing their Painkiller® experiences where ever they may be, whether it’s a sandy beach bar or even in their own backyard, the cocktail is easy to make and even easier to enjoy!
It has even made a few recent appearances on trips to Antarctica, first in 2013 with the Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell and most recently with the 100 year anniversary of the 1916 Shackleton expedition. The popularity of this Caribbean lifestyle drink has also been celebrated through a variety of T-shirts, mugs, ceramics and a non-alcoholic mix, all of which are available on-line or at its Company Stores.
Regardless of where it is consumed, it will always have that same sense of fun and friendship that originates with the warm sandy beaches of the BVI and the Road Town Pub where it all began. Lifestyle is what it is all about and we invite you to enjoy your cocktail whilst you sit back, relax and have fun. Rarely is one Painkiller sufficient for the evening but no matter the amount consumed they are guaranteed to please.