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Painkiller NYC



November 16, 2010

By LeNell Smothers and Demián Camacho Santa Ana

More than ever, drinks mixers are traveling and learning about trends and spirits in other markets, then returning to their home base with inspired ideas for their own beverage programs.

Casa Cóctel ( may offer guests a menu reflecting our global interest, but it’s hard for a massive whiskey selection, amazing absinthe stash, and fancy cocktail menu to compete with Mexico’s number one beverage of choice—beer.

No one can argue that beer is Mexico’s preferred beverage with most of the market controlled by two corporate giants—FEMSA and Grupo Modelo. Corona is the leading Mexican beer brand in the US and in the Mexican market, as well. Tecate is the leading imported canned beer in the US with Tecate Light the leading light brand here in Mexico. With the overwhelming number of beverage sales here attributed to the beer category, it’s no wonder that cervezas preparadas such as Micheledas are on practically every menu in some form. Mixed drinks prepared with beer might include Clamato juice, soy sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper, or Worcestershire.

Like most of the cocktail drinkers in the US, most of our customers here in Baja California Sur feel more comfortable with a sweet or fruity concoction than a spirity, strong mixed drink. The typical customer knows the same drinks folks feel familiar with in the US: Vodka mixed with an energy drink, tonic, juice or soda, Sex on the Beach, Long Island Iced Tea, and the Margarita. Cocktail menus aren’t so common here, and if you do find them, you aren’t typically seeing a lot of creativity.

No one’s apologizing for ordering a Piña Colada here, and who should have to Continue Reading…



June 27, 2010

Getting To Frozen Drink Perfection
By Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez of Painkiller, NYC


Presently, we would argue that the most popular incarnation of the Piña Colada usually is made with cream of coconut. Out of the combination of sheer boredom and a quest for personal enlightenment, we have personally tried to replicate every recipe that we have found for the Piña Colada. All of our efforts to recreate these “classic” drinks were made with silver rum and freshly extracted pineapple juice. We prepared them in blenders and served them frozen (although this detail is never specified in writing in the “classic” recipes). As stated earlier, the main difference (and the only one that ultimately matters) in the preparation of the Cuban variation of these rum and pineapple cocktails versus the Puerto Rican style is the use of coconut.

Through years of previous experience making cocktails we have discovered that drinks that have higher water content also need to be sweeter than a drink that is prepared with less dilution and without the assistance of ice in the vessel it is served in. Therefore, frozen cocktails like the Piña Colada have a relatively large amount of water with respect to a Daiquiri that is shaken and served up. From our experience thus far at Painkiller, we are fairly certain that it is safe to say that our frozen drinks have unusually high water content.

We will also say that it was concluded definitively in our opinion that due to the sweetness in cream of coconut that the “Puerto Rican” or “1954” Pina Colada is most likely the version of the drink that we all consider the prototype. All Cuban-style Pina Coladas that we prepared with coconut milk and/or coconut water were either too diluted or too bland.

Consumed on its own, cream of coconut is horribly sweet and difficult to work with in shaken drinks due to the density it adds (even more so in stirred cocktails). In frozen cocktails, qualities that are detrimental to shaken drinks like viscosity and sweetness become beneficial. The higher water content in Piña Coladas is brought into balance by the richness and sweetness of the cream of coconut. The addition of fresh pineapple and its high starch content bring the lighter alcohol and the highly dense cream of coconut into harmony within the cocktail. Let us continue on to the preparation of our own Piña Colada.


At Painkiller, we prepare our Piña Colada by combining the following ingredients in a blender: Continue Reading…

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June 24, 2010

Beach Beverage

Photo courtesy of Combier

The warm summer breeze makes us long for the beach.

Sadly, we’re stuck in the concrete jungle and chained to the computer.

However, here’s a little something to transport us all today.

Straight from the Gourmet Latino Festival (www.gourmetlatinofestival) and the hands of the man who made umbrellas and pink flamingos sexy again…

The LaniKai Beach Margarita by Giuseppe Gonzalez
1 ½ oz. 1921 Tequila
¾ oz. Lime
¾ oz. Agave
¾ oz. Royal Combier


Serve in a cored out pineapple



June 22, 2010

An Unabashed Love Affair With A Frothy Coconut Concoction
By Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez of Painkiller, NYC


At Painkiller (, the Piña Colada is a drink that we hold very close to our hearts for myriad reasons. Suffice to say that cannot hide our reverence, our lack of objectivity, and quite honestly–our unalloyed affinity for this cocktail. Our love affair with the Piña Colada began long before we began our respective journeys behind the bar, but we can say with confidence that we were inspired to rediscover this frozen treasure when Giuseppe was invited to participate in the Grand Marnier/Navan “On the Fly” competition at the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans. The rules were simple: present the judges with a cocktail using the ingredients provided. Each contestant was presented with a secret grab bag of sorts, whose contents were handpicked by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. To most experienced bartenders this competition would have been a walk in the park had their grab bag contained the familiar lineup of ingredients that they work with on a daily basis at their respective bars.

Giuseppe reached into his bag and found that he didn’t have much to work with at all. He held in his hand a container of Funkin Piña Colada mix. That’s right, Piña Colada mix. This was going to be an arduous task to say the least–and the clock was ticking. He realized that if he was going to make an impression on the judges, he would have to go back to his roots. Cutty Sark and coconut water is a beloved combination on the island of Puerto Rico, where Giuseppe was raised. With his inspiration in mind, he prepared what would become the winning cocktail, a Scotch Piña Colada. Dale Degroff smiled when Giuseppe told him, “If I didn’t use the Piña Colada mix, my grandfather would have been very disappointed.”

Despite Herculean efforts by the champions of our industry to herald and preserve the classic cocktail, many of us have grown weary of seeing these drinks made poorly by those who would take shortcuts by using inferior ingredients and mediocre techniques. The rediscovery and advancement of some of the methods used to master the service of pre and post-Prohibition era classics have opened our eyes to the fact that it is imperative that we revisit the past in order to improve our collective future behind the bar. That having been said, it would appear that we are now respectfully looking beyond the punch bowls and coupes of the saloons and speakeasies, where we cut our teeth, and looking towards the sandy shores Continue Reading…