Thirsty Writer, Libations Marketer
How a little Caribbean island created a big drink
Jost Van Dyke is a tiny island known for good times for good reason. Located in the British Virgin Islands and only 3 square miles, it has no ATM machine and a “grocery store” most often closed and stocked with a few canned goods. Goats roam the one main road freely and cars are scarce. No matter, there are a few ramshackle bars to cater the island’s reputation as a stopover for sailors and yachtsmen.
Back in the 1970s a woman named Daphne Henderson ran the now infamous Soggy Dollar Bar, located on a picturesque inlet known as White Bay. As there’s no dock, boats get as close to they can to the shore (we’re talking a few feet) and toss in an anchor. You have to swim from your boat to the bar, hence the term “soggy dollar.” Daphne created a potent cocktail she called the Painkiller, a mix of rums and juices that kept the party at the Soggy Dollar going all day and night.
One of her frequent guests was Charles Tobias, the modern day founder of Pusser’s rum. The brand was popular among the British Royal Navy and became all but extinct until Tobias bought the right to commercialize it in 1980. Though Daphne’s Painkiller recipe was (and still is) a secret recipe, he found a way to closely replicate it using Pusser’s, trademarked it, and the rest is history.
On my recent visit to the Soggy Dollar Bar, the bartenders were using an unmarked bottle of dark rum with a (sometimes) float of Pusser’s. Regardless, they were still the perfect way to soak up the sun and laze the day away on Jost Van Dyke. Frequent imbiber can even join the tongue-in-cheek “Painkiller Club” which offers unlimited tanning, free use of unoccupied hammocks and exclusive access through a VIP door (there is no door at all!) among other things.
Or, have a “staycation” and mix one up at home:
2-3 oz. of Pusser’s Rum
4 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. cream of coconut (Coco Lopez or Goya is available at most grocery stores)
1 oz. orange juice
Grated fresh nutmeg
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add first four ingredients and stir. Pour into cocktail glasses and top with grated nutmeg.
Link to the full Pusser’s Painkiller story as told by Charles Tobias: