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 Pusser's
founder Charles Tobias, came from all around to sample her tasty
Pusser's Painkiller® for which she'd become locally famous. The fact
that Tobias had gone to Great Britain's Royal Navy and gotten permission
to commercialize the rum in 1980 made him more curious about this
deliciously concocted recipe made with Pusser's Rum.
Daphne Henderson and Charles Tobias became good friends, but in spite
of their friendship, and no matter how hard he 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, Tobias somehow managed to get one of her
concoctions back through the surf and over the gunwale into his boat,
and ultimately into his kitchen on Tortola where he lives. There he went
to work, trying to match her flavor as closely as possible with his own
recipe which he 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, Tobias returned to the Soggy Dollar Bar for
another afternoon of West Indian food, Painkillers and swimming. Shaking
the water off after his swim ashore, Tobias 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,” he said.
"If you've got it, what do you need anything from me for?" she
replied smiling as she continued to josh Tobias about my not being able
to come even close. "Wait and see," he told her, and in a few minutes,
he mixed one of his and started to taste it against hers. Tobias
discerned a slight difference, but thought his mixture better, not quite
so sweet as hers, and told her so. Understandably, she insisted that
hers was better and challenged him to a contest. Tobias accepted, and
the bet was on for $100.
There were about ten patrons around the bar. Tobias ordered two
rounds: one that Daphne made, and one that he made to his recipe. They
marked the cups and proceeded to test. Tobias’s recipe won 10 out of 10
taste-tests! They preferred his version to hers. She humorously insisted
that somehow Tobias paid everybody off to win. Of course, he hadn't,
and vehemently denied her charges. Tobias took payment on the bet in the
form of 40 Painkillers which the crowd all drank to celebrate the
Soon after, Tobias started promoting the Pusser's Painkiller® in the
two Pusser's bars he had at that time on Tortola. But he always gives
Daphne Henderson credit with a by-line in Pusser's printed media: AS
INSPIRED BY DAPHNE AT THE SOGGY DOLLAR BAR AT WHITE BAY ON JOST VAN
DYKE. 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
The Soggy Dollar Bar as it looks before the swim in.
The refurbished 6-seat Soggy Dollar. The clothes line and the pegs where
the money dries are now mounted lower than they originally were, but
it's the same famous wire.