Painkiller Cocktail Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 7, 2023

The Painkiller is a tropical rum cocktail and a beautiful riff on another classic coconut drink - the Piña Colada - but with orange juice.
Painkiller cocktail with pineapple garnish

If you like a good Piña Colada, try the Painkiller cocktail. The recipe is a delicious riff that's more fruity and just as tropical. The main difference between the two drinks is the orange juice, which makes the cocktail fresher and adds complexity. 

Quick Facts Painkiller Cocktail

  • Method: blended
  • Flavor profile: sweet, fruity
  • How to serve it: over ice
  • Glassware: hurricane glass or pineapple shell
  • Alcohol content: ~ 13% ABV, 23 grams of alcohol per serving

Topped with grated nutmeg, the Painkiller is a sensational Tiki cocktail.

Painkiller cocktail with pineapple garnish

Painkiller Recipe

A fresh and delicious riff on the Piña Colada.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Caribbean
Keyword: coconut, rum
Servings: 1
Calories: 225kcal
Cost: $1.90


  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Cocktail Shaker
  • 1 Hawthorne Strainer


  • 1.75 oz Navy Rum
  • 3 oz Fresh pineapple juice
  • 0.75 oz Fresh orange juice
  • 0.5 oz Cream of coconut


  • Add all ingredients to your cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.
    1.75 oz Navy Rum, 3 oz Fresh pineapple juice, 0.75 oz Fresh orange juice, 0.5 oz Cream of coconut
  • Shake until the drink is we-chilled, then strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.
  • Grate fresh nutmeg on top and optionally garnish the cocktail with a pineapple wedge.


Serving: 6ozCalories: 225kcalCarbohydrates: 31.68gProtein: 0.95gFat: 2.95gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 6mgPotassium: 166.75mgSugar: 27.7gVitamin C: 21.5mgCalcium: 26.5mgIron: 0.35mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


The Painkiller also shares most of its ingredients with its forerunner, the Piña Colada. Here's the list of all the things you'll need to make this drink:

  • Navy Rum: Traditionally, the cocktail is made with Pusser's Rum, a recreation of the original British Navy Rum. Until 1970, sailors of the British Navy got provided with a daily ration of rum. Pusser's decided to honor this tradition by mimicking the rum and its characteristics - including the 109 proof (54.4% ABV).
  • Fresh pineapple juice: For juicing pineapple, use a pineapple cutter and remove the fruit flesh. Then juice it and consider keeping the shell. You can use it to serve your Painkiller.
  • Cream of coconut: Cream of coconut is a key ingredient in the Painkiller cocktail. -Don't use coconut milk or cream. Scroll down to learn the difference.
  • Fresh Orange juice: Use freshly squeezed orange juice. It makes an immense difference if you work with flavors and the natural sweetness of fresh products instead of store-bought juice. 
  • Grated nutmeg: more than just a garnish. The freshly grated nutmeg adds a warm and aromatic note to the cocktail. Don't leave it off.

Tips for Making the Painkiller Cocktail

The crucial parts of the recipe are using fresh juices, high-proof rum, and the cream of coconut. Even if you buy 100% fruit juice with no additives, the taste will be different. It just lacks the fresh, slightly sour zing of freshly squeezed versions. 

If you really don't have the time and need to buy the juices for this rum cocktail, stay away from nectar and stuff that says fruit drink on the label. They are watered down, aromatized, and sweetened and will spoil your drink. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the high ABV of Pusser's Rum. If you opt for another aged rum, increase the amount given in our recipe to 2oz.

Why is Cream of Coconut crucial?

Cream of coconut is a key ingredient in the Painkiller Cocktail because it has the ideal amount of fat (~10%) and sugar (~70%) for cocktails. It is often mistaken for coconut cream, but those two products are far from the same.

Here's the difference between cream of coconut and coconut cream in a nutshell:

  • Coconut cream: An unsweetened and thick cream with a strong coconut flavor. It gets made by reducing coconut milk, so the relative amount of water decreases that of coconut increases.
  • Cream of coconut: A syrup-like sweetener for many cocktails. Usually, it has a base of coconut cream or coconut milk combined with loads of sugar. 

You can get it in your local supermarket or make cream of coconut at home.

Painkiller Cocktail

Variations of the Recipe

Though officially made with Pusser's Rum, there are plenty of alternatives. If you want to keep the ingredient traditional, use Navy Rum.

If you don't have a Navy Rum, the best single substitute is a full-bodied and rich dark rum

Another good way to build the base is to use two different rums. Like in a Piña Colada or many other Tiki cocktails, a base of white mixed with aged rum will create a deep and flavorful base.

Quite possibly, the original recipe from the Soggy Dollar bar got made using two different types of rum. If you want to play with the recipe, try increasing the amount of rum or/and pineapple juice in the cocktail.

History of the Painkiller Cocktail

The Painkiller cocktail first popped up in the 1970s. It got invented in the "Soggy Dollar Bar" in the British Virgin Islands, where sailors had to swim to reach it - hence "Soggy". The place was owned and managed by Daphne Henderson.

Charles Tobias, the founder of Pusser's Rum, someday became friends with Henderson. And when he tried to recreate the signature drink at her Soggy Dollar Bar, the customers enjoyed his slightly different and less sweet version.

The drink became super successful at Henderson's bar, and Tobias started to promote it as Pusser's Painkiller. Problems arose when a bar in New York, opened under the name Painkiller, offered the namesaked drink.

In the 1980s, Pusser's decided to trademark the Painkiller and launch a massive marketing campaign. That meant that whenever someone ordered a Painkiller at any bar in the US, the cocktail had to be made with Pusser's Rum - except for your home bar, obviously.

A following trademark lawsuit with the Painkiller bar in NYC led to changing the bar's name to PKNY. 

As a consequence of this ruling, many bartenders and bar managers decided to boycott Pusser's Rum. Some even went so far as to intentionally promote Painkiller cocktails made with any Rum other than Pusser's Rum.

Related Cocktails

If you like the tropical vibes of the Painkiller recipe, we recommend trying some of these Tiki drinks next time:

  • The Dark & Stormy - made with Navy Rum and ginger beer.
  • The Bahama Mama - made with coconut, pineapple, rum, and coffee liqueur.
  • The Piña Colada - made right, this drink is beyond delightful.

If you want more, here's an overview of the 20 best Tiki Cocktails.

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