Beverages, Recipes

Classic Painkiller Cocktail (Best Recipe)

With a name like Painkiller cocktail, you know this drink will be tasty. And it doesn’t disappoint. 

It’s just as incredible as the name implies.

Classic Painkiller Cocktail (Best Recipe) featuring A glass of Painkiller Cocktail with a Pineapple Wedge

The Painkiller cocktail is a potent drink with a rich, fruity, tropical flavor. Created in the 1970s, it’s the dark rum cousin to the Pina Colada.


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It first appeared at the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands. 

Pusser’s Rum later trademarked it in the 80s. And it now must include Pusser’s to be “the real thing.”

Try the Painkiller cocktail if you’re looking for a delicious beverage with serious beach vibes. 

What’s in a Painkiller Cocktail? 

You can make the Painkiller with as few as five ingredients plus optional garnishes. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Ice- The Painkiller uses ice in the cocktail shaker and the drinking glass. I use large cubes in the shaker (to prevent dilution). Then, I use fun-shaped cubes in the glass for aesthetics. These pineapple ice cube molds from Amazon are a festive, beachy option.
  • Pusser’s Rum- To be a genuine Painkiller cocktail, the drink MUST include Pusser’s. (It’s a trademark thing.) However, if you’re making them at home and don’t care about trademarks, any dark rum will suffice. 
  • Pineapple Juice- Be sure to get 100% pineapple juice. 
  • Orange Juice- Use 100% orange juice without pulp. Freshly squeezed orange juice works just as well, though. (In fact, I like it even better.)
  • Cream of Coconut- Be careful when purchasing your cream of coconut. Don’t grab coconut cream by mistake. The two aren’t the same and are not interchangeable. 
  • Optional Garnishes- I enjoy adding a pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry, and freshly grated nutmeg. That’s the classic recipe. You can stick with those garnishes or experiment with your own. Cute umbrellas and colorful straws are also fun additions. 
Top view of a glass of Painkiller Cocktail,  garnished with a slice of fresh pineapple and nutmeg powder

How to Make a Painkiller Drink 

Making a Painkiller is super simple. It’s a matter of combining, shaking, and straining. Here’s the complete list of steps: 

1. Combine the ingredients. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Then, add the rum, fruit juices, and cream of coconut. 

2. Shake. Shake vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds or until the shaker is cold. 

3. Strain. Strain the cocktail into a glass filled with ice. 

4. Garnish and serve. Add your desired garnishes. Be sure to dust some freshly grated nutmeg on top. Serve and enjoy! 

A glass of Pineapple Cocktail with a pineapple garnish on a wooden table

Tips and Tricks 

The Painkiller cocktail isn’t a difficult drink to make. Still, these few tips and tricks will make the process go even more smoothly: 

  • Chill all ingredients except the cream of coconut. Pop your rum and juices in the fridge for at least 1 hour before making the cocktail. Even the fresh squeezed orange juice. Cold ingredients will keep the cocktail cold for longer. Don’t refrigerate the cream of coconut, though; it’ll thicken.
  • Chill your glasses. Your ingredients aren’t the only thing you can pop in the fridge (or freezer). Stick your glasses (and even your cocktail shaker!) in there, too. As with the ingredients, the colder your container is, the longer your cocktail will stay cool.
  • Try a different rum. Dark is typical for the Painkiller. However, you can try golden or aged rum for a new flavor profile.
  • No cocktail shaker? That’s okay! Use a Mason jar with the lid screwed on instead.
  • Serve over crushed ice. I like to use shaped ice cubes because they’re fun and festive. Traditionally, though, the Painkiller comes served over shaved or crushed ice. You can use those for a more authentic and refreshing drink.
  • Don’t forget the nutmeg. In most drinks, garnishes are optional. And, of course, that’s TECHNICALLY true of this cocktail, too. But trust me, you DO NOT want to leave out the nutmeg. 
Whole pineapple and a glass of Painkiller Cocktail garnished with pineapple slice on a wooden table with a jigger and a whole pineapple to the right side

Top It Off With Freshly Grated Nutmeg 

I listed “grated nutmeg” among the garnishes because it IS a garnish. However, it’s pretty essential to the overall taste of the drink. 

Its warm, rich flavor and aromatic scent take the drink to the next level. Pick up whole nutmeg and grate it with a grater or microplane for the best results.


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What’s the Difference Between a Painkiller Cocktail and a Piña Colada? 

The Pina Colada and Painkiller are sweet, fruity, tropical, rum-based cocktails. So, what exactly makes them different? Simple! 

The difference between the two drinks is the type of rum each drink uses. Pina Coladas use light/white rum, whereas Painkillers require dark rum. 

Specifically, Painkillers should include Pusser’s Dark Rum. But, as mentioned above, any dark rum will do. Dark rum gives the Painkiller richer, spicier undertones. 

Painkiller Cocktail