The Painkiller cocktail is like a piña colada…but better! This tropical pineapple drink features aged rum, cream of coconut and orange.

Painkiller cocktail

So you love piña coladas? Then you absolutely must try a Painkiller cocktail! This 1970’s tropical drink is a spin on the classic piña colada, but even better. It stars aged rum, cream of coconut, and orange juice, which add intrigue and nuance to this sophisticated drink. Top it off with a little grated nutmeg, and wow! Both Alex and I raised our eyebrows in appreciation after first sip. It’s fruity, tropical, and just darn tasty. Sip these on the patio or by the pool, or in the winter when you’re dreaming of summer sun.

What’s in a Painkiller cocktail?

The Painkiller cocktail was invented in the 1970’s in the British Virgin Islands at a bar called Soggy Dollar Bar. It was originally made with Pusser’s Rum, a type of rum made using the British Royal Navy recipe. The drink was trademarked in the 1980’s so that if it’s included on a menu, it should include the traditional Pusser’s Rum. Of course if you’re making it at home, you can use any type of aged or dark rum! Here are the ingredients you need for a Painkiller cocktail:

  • Aged rum (Pusser’s Rum is traditional)
  • Pineapple juice
  • Cream of coconut (not coconut cream!)
  • Orange juice
  • Grated nutmeg

The most important thing about these ingredients: make sure to buy “cream of coconut,” not coconut cream. What’s the difference?

Painkiller cocktail

Cream of coconut vs coconut cream

Here’s the most important thing to know about the Painkiller cocktail. Buy cream of coconut, not coconut cream. They sound the same, but there’s an important difference between two. Here’s what to know about cream of coconut vs coconut cream:

  • Coconut cream is unsweetened: it’s very thick and has a strong coconut flavor. Coconut cream is made from chilling coconut milk and then skimming off the layer of cream that floats to the top. It’s typically sold in cans next to the coconut milk.
  • Cream of coconut is a sweetened syrup for drinks! It consists of coconut cream with lots of sugar added. Because it’s used in drinks, it’s sold in handy squeeze bottles. Cream of coconut is easy to find online or at your local liquor store. A popular brand is Coco Real.
  • Want more with cream of coconut? Try popular coconut cocktails like the Piña Colada, Painkiller, Coconut Martini or Bushwacker!

What if you accidentally buy coconut cream for the Painkiller? You can save your drink! Use ½ ounce coconut cream and ¾ ounce simple syrup.

Aged rum adds nuanced flavor to a Painkiller

Many rum cocktails use white rum or dark rum. But the Painkiller cocktail uses a whole other category of this liquor: aged rum or golden rum! Aging rum for a few years gives it a complex flavor. Golden rum can have notes of vanilla, coconut, almond, citrus, or caramel. The aged rum that we used here was Brugal Añejo Rum.

Can’t find golden or aged rum or don’t have it on hand? You can substitute dark rum and the drink will work. You can also use white rum, but it’s not quite the same. It does work in a pinch!

Aged rum

Top it off with grated nutmeg!

It’s a minor detail, but the garnish of this drink really does take it over the top. Buy whole nutmeg, then used a microplane or grater to grate a little on top. Nutmeg has a warm, aromatic flavor with undertones of clove. Other drinks that use grated nutmeg on top? The Milk Punch or Brandy Alexander: two creamy drinks that are similarly delicious.

More pineapple cocktails

There are so many more great cocktails starring pineapple juice! Once you buy a jug for this recipe, you’ll simply have to make more! Here are some of our favorite tropical pineapple cocktails:

Painkiller cocktail

When to serve a Painkiller cocktail

The Painkiller cocktail is a tasty spin on the pina colada! It’s great as a:

  • Summer drink
  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Signature cocktail
  • Bridal shower drink or bachelorette party drink
  • Girls night drink
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Classic Painkiller Cocktail

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


The Painkiller cocktail is like a piña colada…but better! This tropical pineapple drink features aged rum, cream of coconut and orange.


  • 2 ½ ounces* aged rum (Pusser’s Rum is traditional)
  • 4 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce cream of coconut (not coconut cream! here’s why.)
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)
  • For the garnish: grated nutmeg, cocktail cherry


  1. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice.
  2. Stain into an ice-filled highball or hurricane glass. Garnish with fresh grated nutmeg and a cocktail cherry. 


*To convert to tablespoons, multiply the ounces by 2 (½ ounce = 1 tablespoon). 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Painkiller cocktail

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.