Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | July 27, 2009

The Painkiller

I made a trip to Annapolis yesterday to spend time with friends. We did an eating and drinking tour of the downtown and made a stop at Pusser’s Pub and Restaurant for dockside drinks. The name should be familiar, as the pub is associated with Pusser’s British Navy Rum, the staple of the British Royal Navy for over 300 years. Though I didn’t know it, Pusser’s is an Annapolis landmark and considered one of the best stops for a drink on a hot day by the water.

Now one of my friends I was traveling with yesterday is a native of Annapolis and, according to him, the drink to have at Pusser’s is The Painkiller. I was first made aware of The Painkiller in Gary Regan’s regular column in the San Francisco Chronicle. The article was called “Cooking Up the Manliest Rum-Based Cocktail” and Regan and cocktailian Dale DeGroff thought The Painkiller is it. Here’s the recipe Regan posted:

Makes 1 generous serving

Adapted from Dale DeGroff. The drink was created at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands.

  • 3 ounces Pusser’s Rum
  • 2 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces coconut cream (use Coco Lopez unless you make your own)
  • — Freshly grated nutmeg, as garnish

Instructions:Place rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and coconut cream into a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake and strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Add the nutmeg as garnish.

Given that I knew The Painkiller as a really strong cocktail, I was curious to see how it would be marketed dockside in Annapolis to a mix of tourists, locals, and Navy midshipmen. Interestingly, the bar offered The Painkiller at four different ratings, with increasing amounts of rum. I didn’t have a menu or the gradation wasn’t clear, but I tried to count the length of the pour from standard speed pourers on run. Here’s my rough estimate:

#1: 1.0 ounces
#2: 1.75 ounces
#3: 2.5 ounces
#4: 3.5 ounces

I initially thought they might have been going for an ounce per number, but the pours on #3 and #4 weren’t long enough. Plus that would be a heck of a lot of strong rum, but that would make too much sense not to be the case…

[Rummage through internet briefly]

So it turns out that my suspicions about the numeric ranking relating to the number of parts of rum in the drink was right!  The number of Painkiller you order is supposed to directly correspond to the volume of rum. Now, I would normally take this opportunity to complain that the bartender skimped out on his pour for numbers 2-4, but honestly, my Painkiller #3 was both strong and tasty. Would it be nice to have perfect proportions? Sure, but this was a dockside bar on a day in the low 90s and a bartending doing everything with speed pourers. Oh well.

Considering that I’m not a big fan of sweet cocktails, particularly ones with multiple types of fruit juices, I loved The Painkiller. It was strong. It was rich. It made me think seriously about giving it all up, buying a boat, and living my life within a stone’s throw of a beachside bar where I could sip a Painkiller whenever I wanted to. Not bad for a day trip to Annapolis, Maryland!



  1. […] the Post’s review makes me want to go even more. Beyond the fact that the bar is named after one of my favorite tiki cocktails, it seems like they’re doing tiki with a level of seriousness primarily on show on only at […]

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