By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, CJ Travel Editor
JOST VAN DYKE – Believe the hype.
The Painkiller, the much-lauded punch they’ve been serving at Jost Van Dyke’s Soggy Dollar Bar since the seventies, is as good as you’ve heard. Maybe even better.
Made with rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice and orange juice, and then topped with a generous dusting of nutmeg, it’s a cup of Caribbean that goes down as smoothly as the warm waters that lap the talcum sands of White Bay, where Soggy’s beachfront watering hole tops every rum lover’s to-do list.
Painkillers go down so smoothly, in fact, that one enthusiastic patron swigged more than 20 in a single sitting, bartender Mick (affectionately known as Old Timer) tells me one sunny summer afternoon. But as he concocts my own punch he’s quick to note that it’s not a practice he endorses.
“That’s way too many,” he says as he pours a liberal shot of Cruzan Banana Rum into one of Soggy’s iconic white plastic tumblers, swearing not to divulge the offender’s exact drink tally. What he tells me, instead, is how the Painkiller got its name.
Apparently the punch is named not, as everyone thinks, for its legendary anesthetic qualities. It’s actually named for the Noni trees that border White Bay’s sands and Soggy itself. Islanders traditionally used the fruit of the evergreen shrub as a natural remedy and pain reliever, so the name Painkiller seemed like a perfect fit for the rum punch that would go on to be responsible for a thousand blissfully lost afternoons.
Although the original Painkiller is made here with Cruzan dark rum, Mick tells me that they now serve the cocktail in vanilla, coconut, banana, mango, raspberry and lemon varieties, all made with the Virgin Islands’ own Cruzan flavored rums. But the dark rum classic is still the most popular, and when I ask Mick who drinks the most he doesn’t he hesitate: “Definitely the Americans, “ he says. “But the Irish and the Welsh are close behind. They love ‘em, too.”
In the last four decades Soggy has sold countless Painkillers, offering patrons not just rummy refreshment but a sweet taste of the Caribbean that transports in a single sip. Yet it hasn’t raised the price on the classic creeper – currently just $6 – in six years. Which only goes to prove the saying wrong. It turns out that you don’t always get what you pay for.
Sometimes you get even more.