Pusser’s Painkiller – the true story!

by admin on February 16, 2009

Soggy Dollar Bar, BVI - Birthplace of the Pusser's Painkiller

Soggy Dollar Bar, BVI - Birthplace of the Pusser's Painkiller

The infamous Pusser’s Painkiller® had its start at the six-seat Soggy Dollar Bar on a long stretch of white sand beach at White Bay on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. There’s no dock, so the usual way in is to swim. Of course, your dollars get wet – hence the name: Soggy Dollar Bar.

When all this started, the bar with its four adjoining cottages was owned by an English lady, Daphne Henderson. Boaters, including myself, came from all around to sample her tasty Pusser’s Painkiller® for which she’d become locally famous. The fact that I had gone to Great Britain’s Royal Navy and gotten permission to commercialize the rum in 1980 made me more curious about this deliciously concocted recipe made with Pusser’s Rum.

Daphne Henderson and I became good friends, but in spite of our friendship, and no matter how hard I tried, she refused to divulge her secret recipe for the Pusser’s Painkiller®. Two years passed, then late one Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of a long session of Painkilling, I somehow managed to get one of her concoctions back through the surf and over the gunwale into my boat, and ultimately into my kitchen on Tortola where I live.

There I went to work, trying to match her flavor as closely as possible with my own recipe which I finally worked out to be “4-1-1″ ratio – four parts pineapple, one part cream of coconut and one part orange juice – adding Pusser’s Rum to suit.

The following Sunday, I returned to the Soggy Dollar Bar for another afternoon of West Indian food, Painkillers and swimming. Shaking the water off after my swim ashore, I announced to Daphne Henderson that I’d finally broken her secret, “At last, Daphne, I have the Painkiller recipe which I promise to not divulge to anyone if you tell me that I’m right.”

“If you’ve got it, what do you need anything from me for?” she replied smiling as she continued to josh me about not being able to come even close. “Wait and see,” I told her, and in a few minutes, mixed one of mine and started to taste it against hers.  I discerned a slight difference, but thought my mixture was better, not quite so sweet as hers, and told her so. Understandably, she insisted that hers was better and challenged me to a contest.  I accepted, and the bet was on for $100.

There were about ten patrons around the bar. I ordered two rounds: one that Daphne made, and one that I made to my recipe. We marked the cups and proceeded to test. My recipe won 10 out of 10 taste-tests! They preferred my version to hers. She humorously insisted that somehow I had paid everybody off to win. Of course, I hadn’t, and vehemently denied her charges. I took payment on the bet in the form of 40 Painkillers which the crowd all drank to celebrate the occasion.

Soon after, I started promoting the Pusser’s Painkiller® in the two Pusser’s bars I had at that time on Tortola.

From this modest beginning, the fame of the Pusser’s Painkiller® has spread throughout the boating and sailing communities of the Caribbean and the U.S., and is probably the most popular mixed rum drink amongst sailors today in the West Indies. And it continues to spread throughout many other parts of the world.

Thanks to Daphne Henderson! …the inspiration behind the Pusser’s Painkiller®.


The Painkiller® is a blend of Pusser’s Rum with 4 parts pineapple juice, 1 part cream of coconut and 1 part orange juice served over the rocks with a generous amount of fresh nutmeg on top. You have a choice of numbers 2, 3 or 4, which designate the amount of Pusser’s Rum! Cheers!

* Painkiller #2 … 2 parts Pusser’s Rum
* Painkiller #3 … 3 parts Pusser’s Rum
* Painkiller #4 … 4 parts Pusser’s Rum

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Reg Brown April 2, 2009 at 12:52 pm

We met at your restaurant on March 6 this year. Did not know you were a Tobias. My grandmother was a Tobias from Bedford, Indiana. Are we related?

Jerry Hanneman May 18, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Is the MAR the same boat you used to keep in Marina Del Rey?

robert gruy June 13, 2009 at 8:53 am

Did a guy named joey bunn ever own/manage the soggy dollar(probably in the 1970’s)?

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