Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | June 21, 2010


The New York Post has a great review of Painkiller, a new tiki bar that’s opened on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I haven’t been yet, but 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 the best craft cocktail lounges.

What’s really cool is that Painkiller has posted all of their drinks’ recipes on their website. Their drinks are broken up by Frozens, Daiquiris, Inglorious Suffering Bastards, Mai Tais, Swizzles, Zombie Punches, Cradles of Life, and Painkiller’s Choice. I absolutely love this. One of the hardest things is going to a cocktail bar, having an incredible drink, then having to either divine proportions through taste or watch a bartender so closely as to see exactly what is being done. I generally don’t like asking for a specific recipe at a bar unless it’s a drink I know I’d want to make repeatedly at home, though that’s more of my personal desire to not ask too much of the bartenders who serve me.

So much of what’s being done now in the tiki movement is based on painstaking research and experimentation. Jeff Beachbum Berry has really enabled major progress through his excavations and testing. Blair Reynolds has brought classic syrups from Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s forward through his line of syrups. And even the cocktailians at Painkiller have posted a Research section where they will talk about their investigations into tiki cocktails. The investigation into the Pina Colada is as exhaustive as any I’ve seen into a particular drink’s history.

As I said, I haven’t been to Painkiller yet, but have been looking forward to going for some time since I heard they would be opening. Everything I’ve seen from their site and press online makes me think Painkiller is a real hit and I look forward to going soon.



  1. Just got back to the NY area yesterday … thanks for the heads up on this place! I’ll give you a report after I check it out …

  2. I got over to Painkiller last week. I’ve just been getting into Beachbum Remixed and this was my first experience at a bona fide Tiki establishment … the place was phenomenal! My favorite part was that they played 70’s punk as the soundtrack! I never thought the Ramones and rum would blend so well … I guess it was Polynesian punk … only in New York.

    My friends & I had Richard mixing for us all night. Real class act! Don’t know how he managed to recreate those intricate tiki recipes while fielding my constant questioning … “so how do you pronounce orgeat anyway?” “how do you like to make your grenadine?” etc, etc.

    I started off with a Mai Tai, which was done according to Vic’s original specs. I wanted to compare it to the ones I’ve been making of late. The difference I noticed was that I wasn’t doing a Lemon Hart 151 float.

    Next he made me a Jungle Bird, which I believe is one of the few (if not only) classic Tiki drink with Campari (mmm!). It worked surprisingly well and Richard served it with a Navy Grog cone in a copper Moscow Mule mug.

    Lastly, I asked for either a Planter’s Punch or a Zombie, again just to compare to my experiments at home. Richard said to go with the Zombie because there wasn’t much to a Planter’s. That was probably a bad idea … definitely a bad idea to drink it quickly because your friends are ready to leave. That’s when things got a little hazy … especially after the 2 cocktails at Ward III in Tribeca …

    All in all, it was a great time and I hope to get back later this week! I would definitely put this at the top of your list next time you’re in NYC!

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