Let's celebrate summer with a classic tiki drink — the Painkiller cocktail! Similar to the beloved piña colada, this tropical cocktail features sweet coconut, pineapple, orange juice and a healthy dose of dark rum for the perfect summer drink. Sipping on this fruity cocktail will make you think you're vacationing beachside.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
When you can’t make it to the beach, bring a piece of the tropics straight home. This Painkiller cocktail is the drink you and your friends will want to sip on all summer long.
Sets a festive party mood: Nothing says summer party like a classic tiki cocktail.
Oh-so smooth: With that sweet coconut and pineapple, this drink goes down almost too easily.
Batch it for multiple servings: For easy entertaining, you can make this Painkiller drink pitcher style.
Makes for one impressive, show-stopping cocktail: With the vibrant hue and fun garnishes, this classic tiki cocktail is sure to get your guests talking and leave them impressed with your mixology skills.
Cream of coconut: It's important to note that this Painkiller cocktail recipe uses cream of coconut, not coconut cream. Yes, they may sound similar, but they are distinctly different. Coconut cream will not give you the right results.
Essentially, cream of coconut is a sweetened, condensed syrup made from real cane sugar and coconut. This adds not only sweetness but also loads of coconut flavor to our cocktails, and its syrup-like consistency makes it easy to incorporate into drinks. You can find cream of coconut in the aisle with cocktail mixers in either a can or squeezable bottle as shown.
While coconut cream makes a wonderful coconut rice, its chunky, thick texture doesn't work well for cocktails, and it lacks the sweetness we need to add balance to the recipe. Save your coconut cream for cooking and cream of coconut for tropical drinks.
Aged dark rum: Navy rum is traditional in the original Painkiller recipe, but you can use your favorite type of rum as long as it's dark. White rum is great with a strawberry mojito, but we want the complex flavor of dark aged rum here.
Garnishes: In addition to the main ingredients, you'll also want tropical garnishes. Ground nutmeg is traditional, so don't skip that. I highly recommend grating from a whole nutmeg for the best flavor. You'll also love a pineapple wedge, orange slice and maraschino cherry.
Step 1: We grab a cocktail shaker and add our pineapple juice, cream of coconut, orange juice, rum and a handful of ice (photo 1).
Step 2: Now we put on the cocktail shaker top and shake vigorously (photo 2). About 15-30 seconds will do the trick.
Step 3: We strain our tropical cocktail into a fun ice-filled tiki glass (photo 3).
Step 4: All that's left is to adorn our glass with a festive garnish, top with ground nutmeg (photo 4) and pretend we're on a tropical vacation while sipping away.
In the 1970s, Daphne Henderson owned the Soggy Dollar Bar, located on the island of Jost Van Dyke of the British Virgin Islands. The island didn't house any docks, so patrons had to literally swim to shore, getting their dollars wet along the way.
As her bar's signature cocktail, Daphne created the Painkiller, which quickly became an island favorite. Charles Tobias, the founder of Pusser's Rum, befriended Daphne and tried to figure out her secret recipe. He ended up creating a slightly less-sweet version and took it to Soggy Dollar to share. Everyone loved it, and his version of the Painkiller became the standard.
Eventually, Charles trademarked the Painkiller, which is why you often see Pusser's Dark Rum as the main ingredient.
While Pusser's may be the traditional rum for a Painkiller, you can substitute another dark rum. I live near a liquor store with an extensive inventory and still can't find Pusser's. Another dark rum still makes for a delicious cocktail.
The two are close cocktail cousins, but the Painkiller is served on the rocks and includes fresh orange juice and dark rum. A piña colada, however, is served frozen with no orange juice. The base is typically a white rum, though it’s often served with a dark rum floater for an extra bit of fun.
Despite their differences, if you enjoy a piña colada, I bet you’ll equally love this Painkiller tiki drink.
Now this is the extra fun part. It’s not a tiki drink without extravagant garnishes. For a Painkiller, freshly grated nutmeg is a traditional garnish, but feel free to get creative from there. I especially love decorating my tiki cocktails with pineapple leaves, an orange wheel, cherries, toasted coconut, edible flowers and fresh mint. Oh, and a paper umbrella is always a delightful touch.
Mix with fresh juice: I highly recommend using freshly squeezed orange juice rather than bottled for the best flavor.
Use the right ice for serving and shaking: While I usually opt for cubed ice for my margaritas, crushed ice is preferred for tiki drinks. You can use crushed ice straight from your freezer, or if you're a Sonic ice lover like so many of us, you can buy Sonic's famous crushed ice at your local restaurant. Although I serve this Painkiller cocktail with crushed ice, I still use cubed ice for shaking.
Shake with two hands: We really want a lot of force behind the shake to properly agitate our drink and dilute some of the ice.
Make entertaining easy: Hosting a tiki party? You can easily serve this pitcher style. Please see the recipe card for proportions.
Sip slowly and enjoy: Tiki drinks have a reputation for sneaking up on you. Am I speaking from experience? You bet.
Tiki drinks call for tropical meals, and I can't think of anything more perfect than a Jamaican jerk dish. I just love the way the rich, caramel-like rum plays with jerk spices. Fortunately for you, I have several options you'll enjoy.
When the beach comes calling, I hope you make this tropical Painkiller cocktail. After the first sip, you'll fall in love with all those tropical flavors. It's one classic tiki cocktail that will instantly whisk you to paradise without even leaving your home.
Looking for More Tropical Cocktails?
If you love this recipe, please leave a comment with a five-star rating — or simply hit the five-star button in the recipe card. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter, and you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok.
- Cocktail shaker
- Jigger or small measuring cup
- Citrus juicer
- Fun tiki glass
- 4 ounces pineapple juice
- 2 ounces dark rum see note
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 ounce cream of coconut not to be confused with coconut cream, see note
- Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish
- Additional garnishes, such as pineapple leaves, cherries, orange slices, etc. optional
- Add the pineapple juice, rum, orange juice, cream of coconut and a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker.
- Put on the top and shake vigorously for 15-30 seconds.
- Fill a fun tiki glass with crushed ice. Strain the cocktail into the glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Add additional desired garnishes. Enjoy!
- For a 12-serving pitcher, stir together 6 cups pineapple juice, 3 cups dark rum, 1 ½ cups orange juice and 1 ½ cups cream of coconut directly in the pitcher and refrigerate for a few hours until you're ready to serve. Before pouring, I recommend giving it a stir because the cream of coconut will settle to the bottom of the pitcher, so you may want to keep a large wooden spoon next to the pitcher.
- Cream of coconut and coconut cream are not the same and cannot be substituted in this drink. Find cream of coconut in the drink mixer aisle in a can or squeezable bottle.
- I highly recommend freshly squeezed orange juice rather than bottled orange juice for best flavor.
- Crushed ice is traditional for serving with tiki drinks. You can use crushed ice straight from your freezer, or if you're a Sonic ice lover, you can buy Sonic's famous crushed ice at your local restaurant.
- Although I serve with crushed ice, I still use cubed ice for shaking.
- Make sure you use two hands when shaking. We want a lot of force behind the shake to properly agitate our drink and dilute some of the ice.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.