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The Painkiller: A Brief History Of The Curiously Named Cocktail

By: Shreya Goswami


Any regular person, when they hear the word painkiller, will immediately think of a synthetic drug designed to remove any pain sensation in the body. But utter the word in front of an alcohol connoisseur or a fan of cocktails, and they will immediately think of the Painkiller cocktail. Well, that’s a curious and evocative name for a cocktail to have, isn’t it? Made with the incredible combination of dark rum like Captain Morgan, pineapples and coconut cream, the Painkiller cocktail is truly capable of siphoning your pain off. 

As you can clearly tell from the core ingredients that go into the making of the Painkiller cocktail, this one clearly evokes images of sunny beaches, smooth sands and velvety flavours. Born in the Caribbean, the Painkiller cocktail is indeed known for its tropical appeal. A true testament to the Caribbean's cocktail legacy, the Painkiller cocktail blends three culturally significant locally grown ingredients—molasses for the rum, pineapples and coconuts. And perhaps what is even more intriguing than its name is the fact that this cocktail was inspired by another classic associated with the Caribbean—the Pina Colada! 

So, whether savoured on sun-soaked beaches or enjoyed in the comfort of a bustling bar, the Painkiller remains an enduring testament to the artistry and allure of Caribbean-inspired cocktails. Now, if you want to know more about the interesting story behind its inception, read on.  

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How The Pina Colada Became The Potent Painkiller 

The Painkiller's inception can be traced to the captivating shores of the British Virgin Islands, specifically the renowned Soggy Dollar Bar nestled in White Bay, Jost Van Dyke. Known for its blue seas and white sandy beaches, this Caribbean island provided the perfect setting and inspiration for the cocktail. It was in the 1970s that this iconic libation emerged, crafted by the deft hands of bartender Daphne Henderson, seeking to offer patrons a refreshing departure from the ubiquitous Pina Colada. 

The cocktail's name was inspired by its intended purpose – to alleviate the "pain" of a long day under the sun, offering a delightful respite akin to a tropical escape. Blending elements from the beloved Pina Colada, Henderson ingeniously reimagined the classic recipe, infusing it with a distinct character that resonated with visitors and locals alike. 

The original Painkiller recipe harnessed the simplicity of a few key ingredients: dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and coconut cream. Yet, it was the precise blend of these elements that imparted the cocktail's unique appeal. Served over ice and garnished with a touch of grated nutmeg, the Painkiller's velvety texture and harmonious flavours encapsulated the essence of Caribbean paradise, making it an instant hit with locals. 

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Its introduction at the Soggy Dollar Bar quickly earned it a dedicated following. Soon, the Painkiller's fame transcended the shores of Jost Van Dyke, making its way to cocktail menus across the Caribbean and eventually spreading its influence globally. The cocktail's global appeal was further amplified by its association with the pristine beaches, azure waters, and laid-back atmosphere of the British Virgin Islands. The idea that a sip of this drink can transport you to a Caribbean paradise was truly alluring and it soon became popular around the world and visitors and tourists spread the word. 

The Painkiller's rise to prominence embodies the spirit of Caribbean mixology, showcasing the region's knack for crafting libations that capture the essence of tropical bliss. From its humble origins at a beachfront bar to its international acclaim, the Painkiller remains an enduring testament to the ingenuity and charm of Caribbean-inspired cocktails, inviting enthusiasts to indulge in its tropical allure and escape, if only momentarily, to paradise. 

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Crafting The Perfect Painkiller With Captain Morgan Rum 

Creating an authentic Painkiller involves precision and quality ingredients. Here's the recipe using British measurements and featuring Captain Morgan rum, which is the perfect choice for those who want to make the Painkiller cocktail at home: 


50ml Captain Morgan Original Dark Rum 

100ml pineapple juice 

25ml orange juice 

25ml coconut cream 

Pineapple wedge and grated nutmeg for garnish 

Ice cubes 


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. 

Pour 50ml of Captain Morgan Original Dark Rum into the shaker. 

Add 100ml of pineapple juice to the mix. 

Pour in 25ml each of orange juice and coconut cream. 

Shake the ingredients vigorously for around 10-15 seconds to blend thoroughly. 

Fill a highball or Collins glass with ice cubes. 

Strain the mixture into the glass over the ice. 

Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg on top.

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