On a three-day summer weekend with the weather forecast predicting temperatures well into the 90's, a super-cold, super-icy drink sounds mighty appealing. My mind starts wandering to drinks made with crushed ice—juleps, swizzles—and also those fabulous icy concoctions whipped up in a blender. This craving led me to Painkiller. Opened about two months ago in the space that used to house the East Side Company Bar, Painkiller is a mash-up of traditional tiki and New York City pride. As the owners put it, "there is a parallel between island cultures, both Polynesian and Old Manhattan."
Graffiti and bamboo co-mingle, but Painkiller definitely embraces its tiki-ness. Pina coladas are served in frozen hollowed-out pineapples, skull and tiki mugs alike are adorned with umbrellas and flamingos. Blenders behind the bar are whirring constantly, and there are frosty drinks galore. Bartenders Enzo Lim & Rob Fuentevilla have been riffing on a classic tiki drink, the Tropical Itch from the Kon-Tiki. It requires a bit of work, but it's not out of reach for the home bartender. That said, if you're feeling lazy, it's worth a visit to the bar to have them make it for you. Plus, their glassware is likely much cooler than yours.
The Painful Itch
1 ounce Beefeater gin
3/4 ounce Appleton V/X rum
3/4 ounce Rhum JM
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce cinnamon bark syrup*
1/2 ounce mango puree
1/2 ounce Orgeat syrup**
Add four ounces of crushed ice and blend in a blender until smooth. Serve in a mai tai glass and garnish with grated cinnamon.
*Combine equal parts sugar and water with a few cinnamon sticks in a saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove cinnamon sticks and cool.
49 Essex Street, New York NY 10002 (map)