The Painkiller is a beloved warm-weather cocktail, a fruity and delicious mix of rum, pineapple and coconut that draws plenty of inspiration from the Piña Colada. It’s wildly popular at Tiki bars and relatively easy to put together, but the recipe is also open to tweaks and embellishments. The Happy Pill is one such take on the Painkiller, and comes from Chica in Las Vegas’ Venetian Hotel.
As with drinks of this style, mixing a blend of rums for the base is the way to go. At Chica bartenders use Don Q Cristal and Plantation dark rum, two high-quality but very affordable rums. If you’ve got other rums on hand, feel free to use them, but stick with one clear rum and one darker, aged rum. Be sure to not go too dark—you’ll want to avoid a blackstrap, for instance.
The Painkiller traditionally calls for cream of coconut, a sweetened, syrupy kind of coconut milk generally sold in cans—it’s also used in the Piña Colada. The Happy Pill also includes cream of coconut for sweetness and richness, but swaps some of it out for coconut liqueur. Specifically, it calls for Kalani, but there are alternatives, including a coconut rum liqueur from Rhum Clement, a celebrated brand.
One small change leads to a big flavor difference. Rather than using pineapple juice from a can or squeezed from a fresh pineapple, the Happy Pill calls for roasted pineapple juice. The process is fairly simple, as you can easily grill some pineapple slices in a pan and then squeeze and strain them. However, the process greatly increases the depth of flavor by caramelizing some of the sugars and adding a bit of char.
The rest of the drink is pretty similar to the Painkiller, calling for orange and lime juices, though there’s less orange here than normal. And, like its predecessors, the drink gets shaken and poured over pebbly crushed ice for a tall, refreshing cocktail that can last for a good while as you relax by the beach or pool.
- 1 ounce Don Q Cristal rum
- 1 ounce Plantation dark rum
- 1 ounce Kalani coconut liqueur
- 3/4 ounce grilled pineapple juice*
- 3/4 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce cream of coconut
- Garnish: cherry
- Garnish: orange slice
- Garnish: grated nutmeg
Add the white rum, dark rum, coconut liqueur, grilled pineapple juice, orange juice, lime juice and cream of coconut into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Pour into a highball glass over crushed ice.
Garnish with a skewered cherry and orange slice.
Dust with fresh grated nutmeg.
*Grilled pineapple juice: Grill 6 pineapple wedges in a stovetop pan on medium-high heat for 2 minutes on each side. Muddle and strain.