Sailing Icons: The Painkiller

No afternoon at October’s U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis is complete without at least one of those delicious rum drinks called a Painkiller. Indeed, the Annapolis show and the Painkiller are inextricably entwined in the minds of regular showgoers. That milky blend of pineapple juice, cream of coconut, orange juice and dark Pusser’s rum is hard to beat after a hard day’s boat-shopping. You can buy one at the bar in the Pusser’s restaurant on the ground floor of the Marriott hotel, but they’re best when served from one of the temporary bars just outside and enjoyed while sauntering along the docks. I suspect the drink has much to do with the good mood that prevails at the show.

This classic sailor’s tipple was born at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost van Dyke in the BVI, where, back in the 1970s, Pusser’s owner Charles Tobias was a regular customer. Owner Daphne Henderson refused to divulge her secret recipe for her renowned Painkiller mix, and after much experimentation Tobias came up with one containing four parts pineapple, one0 part cream of coconut, one part orange juice. He bet Henderson $100 that his mix tasted better, and assorted drinkers at the bar backed him up. Add a shake of grated nutmeg and the requisite amount of rum—a #2 equals two parts Pusser’s, and so on up to #4—and you’re all set.

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