A tropical twist on the classic Pina Colada, the Painkiller is as deceptive as it is delicious since it probably makes headaches worse rather than curing them.
It’s not the most common drink, which can make it hard to find in bars and clubs, and not every bartender is going to know how to make them.
So, to avoid any confusion, we’ve prepared a lovely little guide on how to master the Painkiller cocktail. Let’s jump right in!
What’s in a Painkiller Drink? The Standard Painkiller Ingredients
Let’s start with the base.
The Painkiller is a rum-based cocktail traditionally using navy or dark rum. You could use any dark rum, but to keep it authentic you want to use Pusser’s Navy Rum.
Pusser’s is a faithful recreation of the rum ration to sailors in the British Navy; a blend of multiple rums from across the Caribbean that come together in Tortula, one of the British Virgin Islands.
Combine that Navy Rum with pineapple juice, orange juice, and coconut cream, and you’re in for a hair-of-the-dog drink with a sweet kick and strong punch in equal measures which I can assure you is much nicer than swallowing paracetamol.
The other thing you’re going to need for a true Painkiller is crushed ice.
If you’re a fan of rum-based cocktails from the Caribbean (like the Cuban Mojito) then this will all be familiar to you. If not, then let’s quickly go over the process of making crushed ice.
If you don’t have an ice crusher, then putting ice and a small amount of water into a blender, and blending until you have the right consistency will do the trick. It’s actually deceivingly simple.
If you don’t even have a blender then don’t worry. Lay a clean tea towel on a flat surface like a worktop or table, place your ice cubes in the center, fold all 4 corners and tie with a rubber band.
The next step is the fun part. Smash it up with a rolling pin until the ice feels small enough and then place it in a jar or glass and back in the freezer for when you need it.
Remember crushed ice can melt fast so if you don’t need it immediately, it’s best to refreeze it.
How to Make a Painkiller Drink in 3 Steps
The Painkiller is a beautifully simple drink to make. There are only three easy steps before that hangover is cured with Navy Rum!
1. Add To Shaker
Add 2 ounces of Pusser’s Rum, 4 ounces of Pineapple Juice, 1 ounce of freshly squeezed Orange Juice, and 1 ounce of Coconut Cream to a shaker. Fill with ice.
2. Shake and Strain
Shake vigorously for a shorter amount of time than you would normally to ensure the ice does not melt and dilute the drink anymore. The Coconut Cream will also be at the perfect level of foaminess. Strain into a hurricane glass filled with crushed ice.
A pineapple wedge will make the perfect garnish for a Painkiller, giving some extra flavor and a fitting tropical aesthetic. The Painkiller is also best enjoyed when drunk through a straw.
Popular Painkiller Variations
The Painkiller is a great cocktail to riff on, owing to its simple mix of rum and sweet fruit juice. Let’s go through a few of the best so you can impress any guests you may have with a drink they’ve never even heard of, let alone tried!
1. Pina Colada
Okay, I’ll admit, your guests probably have heard of this one. You’ll want to go with a similar recipe.
2 ounces white rum (either plain white rum such as Bacardi or coconut rum like Malibu will work), 4 ounces pineapple juice, and 2 ounces coconut cream. Shake, strain over crushed ice, and garnish as you normally would.
So there you have it: 2 cocktails in 1 blog. I’ve taught you how to make a Painkiller and a Pina Colada, and all without making a joke about getting caught in the rain….
2. Sparkling Painkiller (or Paincava)
We’re going to shake up all our ingredients as normal but only use half as much Pineapple Juice in this one. After straining out the mixture, top up with prosecco or cava.
The sparkling white wine is going to give an entirely new texture and flavor, while still keeping the tropical feel of the drink.
Now you can enjoy a combination of the bubbly refreshment of sparkling wine and the tropical fruits of the Painkiller. A true best of both worlds.
3. Old Fashioned Painkiller
It might seem like an odd mix, but don’t knock it till you try it.
Replacing the Navy Rum with Bourbon is going to open up a whole new world of possibilities and flavors that let you take your Painkiller in whatever direction suits your fancy.
The variety in flavors and notes available on the Bourbon market means you can try a strong Painkiller, a sweeter Painkiller, or even a spicy Painkiller.
It’s very different from the original, but no less worthy of a try!
I started bartending in 2017, just 4 days after my 18th birthday, at a cocktail bar in my hometown. I immediately fell in love with the art and science of mixology and have since worked in bars across Yarm, York and Liverpool in England.