How To Make A Painkiller- A Cocktail in the Caribbean


Mar 12

A Painkiller in Tortola - Find out how to make a painkiller in the article

How to Make  A Painkiller

It doesn’t take long to pick up on an island’s signature drink. A postcard here, an invitation there, a suggestion at the behest of a total stranger…

“Would you like a Sex on the beach?” is one way to get the conversation started. I’m never sure which is worse. The unwelcome sexual overtones or the injuries inflicted upon grammar in the sentence.

“Would you like a painkiller?” on the other hand, is better.

Sentence makes sense; harassment absent.

But it does leave me with the strange sensation that I must be looking ill.

In any case, this kind of painkiller is the patron drink of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, although like all good food and drink legends, this one has a much disputed past.

Who created the first pankiller drink?

The drink itself involves a surprisingly strong mix of sweet Baileys-like fluid topped up with zesty citrus and nutmeg. As I sipped my first one, a deep-tanned woman moored her boat and strode past me, pausing only to tell me this:

“The real ones aren’t from here,” she said with a stereotypical flick of her luscious blonde hair. “They come from Soggy Dollar on Jost van Dyke Island.”

“We usually like it there,” she went on “but they don’t have enough jetties for our boats.”

Recommended reading: 27 Ways Food and Travel Go Together (Not just for “Foodies”)

British Virgin Islands: A Strong Naval History

British Navy Pussers Rum - a key component of how to make a painkillerSuch naval concerns are strong in the BVI. Tortola is known for its sailing coves and the island’s main rum base bears staunch links to the old British Navy.

It turns out that rum made it into the daily rations, with a single tot served daily between 1655 right the way up to 1970 (two tots before battle, which, well surprises.)

The man in charge of the operation bore the title of Purser but over time this became “Pusser’s.”

That’s what Pusser’s-the-brand say, anyway, their product emblazoned with the words British Navy and found throughout the islands.

Perhaps by coincidence, perhaps not, the painkiller came in to existence just as the real Purser’s Rum came to an end.

They called it Black Tot Day – although it probably makes the rest of us sleep more easily.

So too does a Painkiller. This is not a gentle tipple.

But for a slice of sunshine, naval history and nutmeg all in one glass, here’s how to make a painkiller!

How to Make a Painkiller, Caribbean Style

2 lots Pusser’s Rum

4 lots Pineapple Juice

1 lot Orange Juice

1 lot cream of coconut

Garnish with sliced orange, cherries and a generous sprinkling of nutmeg.

Then drink up, sit back and think of England…or A sex on the beach if you must.

Having a painkiller in Tortola, BVI


Disclosure: I visited Tortola as a guest of  the British Virgin Islands and Elite Island Resorts but as ever, as always, what I write here is up to me. And what I drink ;-)

Looking for more Caribbean recipes? Check out the collection of Bajan recipes over here, including flying fish and cou cou.


About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.

  • Cailin says:

    Cool! But how much is a “lot”? Is that like an ounce?

    • Abi says:

      Ha! Sorry, that’s my shorthand (not a British-ism as far as I know.) Yes, you can use ounce. Or cup. Or jug if you’re having a party… As long as you keep the ratio the same!

  • Wiiii, I love painkiller! Been to BVI three times, go there for Interline Regatta, and we always stop at Jost Van Dyke and soggy dollar bar. Of course we have to to it the old fashioned way and swim from our boat and ashore. this is how Soggy Dollar bar got its name, all the wet money from people swimming from their boats. Written loads on BVI on my blog.

  • Diane says:

    This sounds delicious (and strong). Love the entries on food and drink.

  • Rosie says:

    Love that you provided the recipe! Nothing like a local drink to get the travel party started.

  • Adam says:

    Sounds delicious and totally pain easing!

  • Scott says:

    Did you make it to the Soggy Dollar? Their painkillers really are the best….I’ve tried them all!

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