Cocktail O’Clock: Painkiller Recipe & History

If you like piña coladas, you’re in for a treat. The painkiller drink just upped the game and brought the idea of tropical healing to a new level.

Below is the history of the painkiller cocktail, followed by the best recipe this side of the metaverse.

Table of Contents

The Story Behind the Painkiller

The painkiller takes what makes the piña colada such a lovely drink and brings it to a whole new level. This cocktail’s fruity, creamy goodness is complemented by the seafaring swagger of dark rum, and it’s where our story begins.

You see, the painkiller is one of those cocktail recipes that calls not only for a particular type of spirit but a specific brand of that spirit: Pusser’s Rum.

The Tale of Pusser’s Rum

It’s a strange concept: government-issued spirits are given to people as a thank-you for their service. But that’s exactly what Pusser’s Rum is.

In fact, Pusser’s recreates in commendable detail a rum served to sailors by the British Royal Navy between the mid-1600s and 1970. The rum was made and blended on the island of Tortula in the British Virgin Islands.

Pusser’s Rum was, therefore, the go-to for the toughest sailors on the planet. As they braced for battle in wooden ships, these men would know that a “tot” (daily ration) of Pusser’s awaited them. And just so you know, “Pusser” came from the word “Purser,” or the fellow who allotted this precious nectar to heroic sailors.

What became of the drink, then?

Around 1970, those higher up in the naval food chain started thinking that sailors were perhaps a bit too fond of Pusser’s for their liking. Might there have been a bit too much tomfoolery going on? Too much rum-fueled bloviating on all manner of subjects? Perhaps a brawl or two in the bowels of the ship?

Whatever the reason, Pusser’s Rum was retired as a form of payment, and the higher-ups who made the decision presumably became the least popular military personnel in Britain.

In fact, rum was such an integral part of Royal Navy history that it’s tied into greater themes of social change. Being aboard a naval ship was tough, miserable, nerve-wracking work, particularly between the 1600s and 1800s. Imagine fighting another ship in roaring seas where musket and cannonballs might rip through you at any second; imagine packing a cannonball into a muzzle in that environment — a bit different from naval warfare today.

Needless to say, Pusser’s Rum was something to look forward to. But on July 31, 1970 — a day known as Black Tot Day — when the Admiralty Board decided that it was no longer to be issued, the feeling of loss was significant. In fact, this more than three centuries-old tradition had been one of the longest surviving traditions in the Navy.

So How Did the Painkiller Recipe Come About?

Now that you understand the importance of Pusser’s Rum to maritime folk let us return to its greatest offspring: the painkiller.

The drink came to be in the 1970s in the British Virgin Islands. There, a bar called the Soggy Dollar Bar — so named because there was no dock, and patrons were jokingly said to have to swim to shore — coined the drink. Pusser’s trademarked the drink in the 1980s, thereby securing themselves as “the” rum for the painkiller.

painkiller recipe cocktail

Favorite Painkiller Recipe

Let’s get the party started. Here’s how you make a killer painkiller:

  • Prep Time 3 Minutes
  • Cook Time 2 Minutes
  • Total Time 5 Minutes
  • Serves 1 People
  • Calories 281 kcal


  • 2 oz. Pusser’s rum
  • 4 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 oz. cream of coconut
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (for garnish)
  • Fresh pineapple wedge (for garnish)


  1. Fill a shaker with ice and add the rum, juices, and cream of coconut.
  2. Shake hard.
  3. Don't leave the drink in the shaker too long, as this is a drink that’s best when it isn’t watered down.
  4. Strain the mixture into a snifter or a hurricane glass with crushed ice.
  5. Add a pineapple wedge on that rim and sprinkle the drink’s top with nutmeg.
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Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

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