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Name:Painkiller
Type:bar
Street:49 Essex Street (Lower East Side)
City:New York
State:NY
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:Soon to be operational (mid-late March / beginning April)

Description:
From the NY Times article:
http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/an-island-cocktail-lounge-manhattan-island/
"Richard Boccato, the veteran bartender and bar owner who will run Painkiller with his Dutch Kills colleague Giuseppe Gonzalez, said he hoped to kick off a new era in tiki culture with the bar.

“We’re not trying to do a classic tiki bar,” Mr. Boccato said. “We’re not going to build our father’s or grandfather’s tiki bar. We want to foster the inception of a New York tiki culture. We’re not taking you off the island of Manhattan onto the island of Oahu. We’re staying right here.”
...
Mr. Boccato expects Painkiller to be open “between the Ides of March and April Fool’s Day.”

[ Edited by: JerseyRED 2010-02-25 09:21 ]

MH

Photos from last night's opening!

Stock - good stock I might add!

Giuseppe - one of the owners fully dedicated to craft tiki cocktails. Had his secret blackbook (er...blackberry rather) but most things from memory. Great guy, great service.

Dead bastard (From the bastards - suffering, dying and dead!) - garnish is large enough to make a side salad out of:

Lighting in background (blue) changes color every few seconds.

House mai tai (homemade orgeat and homemade orange curacao with bonus 151 Lemonheart float!:

Very way back backroom - didn't get to see it yet. there are booths in the room just at the end of the photos - about 10 or so.

D

Mr. Ho...how were the drinks?

Oh. My. (tiki) Goodness. A NYC tiki bar worth it's weight in gold has arrived!

There are many gifted NYC bartenders with strong interest in tiki cocktails. We often travel from bar to bar, seeking out these tiki-focused individuals to satisfy our craving for mai tais, zombies, and bowl drinks. We could stop by Dylan Prime for a Jet Pilot; PDT for off-menu drinks such as the Beachbum; Death & Co for their unique take on classic tiki cocktails.

The trick had been to know when and where to find these tiki bartenders.

Now there's a place where all the focus is tiki. Painkiller.

The decor is a wonderfully-interpreted blend of NYC street style and Polypop decor. The handmade bamboo bar seats about 14 with ample room for standees. Split bambooo paneling at chair rail height line the walls in classic tiki style. In the back room there are comfortable booths which seat about 4-6 and small booths for 2. Gaffiti art stating, "mahalo" and "Ohana" grace the walls where panoramas of island life would normally be featured. LED cove lighting throughout the space adds a dynamic element.

The cocktails are superbly crafted with excellent ingredients, but that's no surprise coming from folks who have worked at places like Milk and Honey and Dutch Kills. Our bartenders were owners Guiseppe and Richie on Friday, and Richie and Amanda on Saturday. We could not have been in better hands.

Painkiller's menu is unique in that most drinks mentioned by category. The Mai Tai and Painkiller are individually listed (and were fantastic, but there are generic listings for 'frozens' (aka flash-blended), 'zombies', 'swizzles', 'daiquiris', 'the bastards' (suffering, dead, dying). When you order a 'swizzle' for example, your bartender will suggest one based on your preferences. We tried the Bermuda Swizzle, which was spot-on.

There are 'tiki flights' (Friday's flight was fresh fruit daiquiris, served up), a 'cradle of life" (flaming bowl drinks) and something called 'Painkiller's Choice', where the customer specifies their spirit of choice, and the bartender creates a cocktail of their choice using that spirit. Choosing 'demerara rum' resulted in a delightful frozen drink called a 'Kapu Kai'.

This is a must-visit place for both tikiphiles and cocktail aficionados alike. Painkiller is open from 5p-4a seven days a week.

See you there!

~Gina (and Jack)

[ Edited by: Martiki-bird 2010-05-09 09:12 ]

G

Great review, Martiki-bird. And glad to hear someone has managed to open a place in NYC that pleases the Tikiphile and the cocktail geeks alike, as well as those who find themselves at the intersection of that Venn diagram (myself included). That's a difficult task. The decor is definitely unique to NYC. Somehow I could see Joey Ramone (R.I.P.) drinking a Zombie there. The decor stretches my idea of "Tiki Bar", but if the drinks are as good as they sound, I'm adding it to my "must visit" list.

D

The long and the short of it? This place will do well.

Now here are the details according to me, your humble fellow tikiphile:

Drinks: I had a Mai Tai and a Zombie. While the flavor of the drinks was superior, I did have a problem with preparation. The Mai Tai had waaay, waaay too much ice in it. I'm not kidding. Almost more ice than drink. When I pushed my straw into the glass the ice overflowed onto the bar. It was served to me in a clear Disney/Polynesian Village style (without the logo) goblet, that was, sorry to say, chipped on the edge. Plus this style of tiki mug..if you want to call it that, is not my favorite style. But that's just me. The Zombie was served in a Fumanchu mug. After I ordered the Mai Tai I went to the restroom to wash my hands so I didn't actually see how it was done, but one thing I noticed with the Zombie was that the bartender, as cool and friendly a guy as he was, put all of the ingredients into the mug, and then just threw ice on top of it. He didn't even put it into a cocktail shaker and mix it up!! Now, since I am not a bartender, I am totally willing to give this the benefit of the doubt, but to put all of your drink ingredients together and NOT shake them? Maybe that works for a Martini, but what's up with that? I mean maybe it was just this particular bartender, but I know the place is brand spanking new and the employees are just getting used to it. Here's the good news though; both drinks tasted better than any other Tiki drinks I have tasted in this area, and the Mai Tai tasted very similar to the ones served at Mai Kai. So as far as that goes, this place has the very slight potential to rival Tiki Ti out there in L.A. as an east coast counterpart. Sorry but again...the bad news. The Mai Tai was $12, and the Zombie was $16!!!! But now the good news again: both drinks, while delicious, were so freaking potent I couldn't order another. Ya know...I have sh*t to do tomorrow!!!

Decor: Very well done. IMHO, they need to find a way to keep the ambience, but not keep it so dark. It hides all of the cool stuff they have in there. Put some low lighting on the artwork and show the world what you invested in to make the interior so interesting in the first place! One other observation: the construction of the bar was just a little awkward. The bar itself was just a little too high. That I could live with. What I couldn't live with was the bar stools that were bolted into the floor. If you sat upright..comfortably, the edge of the bar was wedging into your chest. The bolted stools were too far under the bar. My suggestion? While the stools as they are were nice and cushy, I would just scrap the bolted-in situation altogether and get free-standing stools that can be moved around.

Service and location: Like I said the bartender was a pretty friendly guy if not a little pre-occupied with what it was he was supposed to be doing. In between mixing and talking to the customers there was chat between himself and another bartender and the mangers about how stuff was priced and how they were being mixed, but I think that's just a function of a new place. People are just getting their bearings. No big deal.

The bar itself is located on Essex and Grand near Chinatown. It's not right in the cluster(f*ck) of the now trendy lower east side but sort of on the outskirts which is pretty cool. I'd rather see it there than see it smack dab in the middle of Ludlow St.

Some of my comments might appear nit-picky, but believe me, I want any new Tiki bar that lands in New York to work. I'm not just criticizing for the sake of criticism. There has been a serious lack of Tiki here for way too long. So the more cool tiki there actually is here in New York, the better a place it will be. Overall Painkiller beats out, with no problem, Otto's Shrunken Head at least in terms of drink quality, and it does seem to have very good potential. They just need to work out the kinks.

\

[ Edited by: donhonyc 2010-05-13 20:57 ]

K

After 4 visits and much drink sampling, I can say that I am thrilled that Painkiller has opened in Gotham City!
Fresh ingredients, house-made orgeat and curacao, great presentation, fun atmosphere and super fab drinks from the Queens Park Swizzle, to the Missionary's Downfall, to the regular or Kon Tiki Mai Tai, the Rumble, the Daquiri's, the Scorpion Bowls, to the namesake Painkkiller, they are all delicious and well-made.

But they say a picture tells a thousand words so here are a few of the libations, the interior and some of NYC's pretty tiki female ohana. We'll be gathering there again next Wed. 6/2 at 6pm if you want to join us, male or female!











Last, here is one of the owners demonstrating the Painkiller Mai Tai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfzkCh3rqJs

S

On 2010-05-13 20:40, donhonyc wrote:
Sorry but again...the bad news. The Mai Tai was $12, and the Zombie was $16!!!! But now the good news again: both drinks, while delicious, were so freaking potent I couldn't order another. Ya know...I have sh*t to do tomorrow
[ Edited by: donhonyc 2010-05-13 20:57 ]

Just wanted to give my perspective on this comment. Here in Australia the average price we pay for a cocktail, good or bad, is roughly $18. Depending on the bar it can be as low as $15 and as much as $24+. Those prices are in Australian dollars, and taking into account the cost of living and the average workers minimum wage here and in the U.S., those prices to me are what I/we are used to. Depending on the conversion rates, even now when our dollars value has dropped against the greenback compared to what it was about three weeks ago, if I came over there now that Mai Tai would still be cheaper to me than what I would buy one for here. And you guys would definitely have a larger range of rums to choose from. If I order a Mai Tai with something off the top shelf, or other than what they would usually make it with, that drink could cost me as much as $30+Aus.
My point is, and i'm not having a go at anyone here, I find it quite amusing that you guys seem to have an issue with the cost of some drinks which to me seem like a bargain. If only drinks cost me that much.

By the way, who's the redhead with the sunglasses?

D

On 2010-05-28 02:52, swizzle wrote:

On 2010-05-13 20:40, donhonyc wrote:
Sorry but again...the bad news. The Mai Tai was $12, and the Zombie was $16!!!! But now the good news again: both drinks, while delicious, were so freaking potent I couldn't order another. Ya know...I have sh*t to do tomorrow
[ Edited by: donhonyc 2010-05-13 20:57 ]

Just wanted to give my perspective on this comment. Here in Australia the average price we pay for a cocktail, good or bad, is roughly $18. Depending on the bar it can be as low as $15 and as much as $24+. Those prices are in Australian dollars, and taking into account the cost of living and the average workers minimum wage here and in the U.S., those prices to me are what I/we are used to. Depending on the conversion rates, even now when our dollars value has dropped against the greenback compared to what it was about three weeks ago, if I came over there now that Mai Tai would still be cheaper to me than what I would buy one for here. And you guys would definitely have a larger range of rums to choose from. If I order a Mai Tai with something off the top shelf, or other
than what they would usually make it with, that drink could cost me as much as $30+Aus.
My point is, and i'm not having a go at anyone here, I find it quite amusing that you guys seem to have an issue with the cost of some drinks which to me seem like a bargain. If only drinks cost me that much.

Nothing personla, but try dealing with the cost of living in Manhattan these days and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Unless I'm at either the Mai Kai, Trader Vic's, or in the case of Martinis, the Algonquin or The Oak Room, anything over $10 is too much to charge for a cocktail, especially on the Lower East Side. Not saying I'll never go to Painkiller again. I will..definitely. But $16 for a cocktail at a new bar. Too much, but that's just my opinion.

[ Edited by: donhonyc 2010-05-31 11:08 ]

T
thejab posted on Tue, Jun 1, 2010 4:44 PM

On 2010-05-27 20:05, KikiTiki wrote:

But they say a picture tells a thousand words so here are a few of the libations, the interior and some of NYC's pretty tiki female ohana.

Looking great! Oh yeah, the bar & drinks look fine too.

Hi Lady Dawn!

I'll be heading up to NYC in a few weeks and am looking forward to dropping in here. Looks to be the best "tiki" bar in NY, extant. Any suggestions?

Z
Zeta posted on Thu, Jun 17, 2010 7:25 AM

Suggestion: spend more money on decoration. Good luck!

On 2010-06-17 07:01, SilverLine wrote:
I'll be heading up to NYC in a few weeks and am looking forward to dropping in here. Looks to be the best "tiki" bar in NY, extant. Any suggestions?

For tiki drinks, yes you should hit Painkiller. Also hit Flatiron Lounge and ask for Joe (he used to be the bartender at Elettaria and knows his way around a tiki drink). Many folks also enjoy the Rusty Knot and Otto's Shrunken Head, but for these places your milage may vary depending on how particular you are about your tiki drinks or if you're happy to be in a fun place. There's also Dram over in Brooklyn. They are not specifically tiki by decoration or intent, but I know at least one bartender there who is serious about his tiki drinks.

Depending on when you are coming, we are also expecting a new "tropical" bar to be opening late July or early August. They are not calling themselves a tiki bar, but it will not be a Margaritaville either - they are looking to make the place look like a laid-back Hawaiian lounge with tropical plants and Hawaiian food. The cocktails will likely be mostly original but I have a feeling the bartenders will know what to do with orgeat and falernum.

Of course all of the above is just tiki - if you want a list of excellent cocktail lounges there are many many many I can recommend.

Let us know when you'll be in town and if want some company - we'll see if we can gather the Ohana some night.

Along the same lines, I'll be in NYC July 16 - 18 and am also looking for ideas. Already have Painkiller and Flatiron on the agenda. Still have a list of high-end cocktail places to hit that I didn't have time to hit during a spring trip (Pegu, Death & Co., Rye House, etc.), but any other suggestions would be appreciated.

Is it just me, or do they put ALOT of ice in their drinks? I mean, I understand you need to ice up your drinks but to the point where it looks half empty? Or maybe they just were half empty..? Who knows.. Either way, this bar looks like a must visit next time I'm out east.

Thanks for the tips! I'll be in town for about a week so I'll try to hit Otto's as well. I'm a little more interested in atmosphere than drink quality (I probably haven't had enough GOOD drinks to tell the difference). There is NOTHING in Kansas City to compare with either of these places, so I'm sure I won't be disappointed.

D

On 2010-06-17 11:28, carlosrossi wrote:
Is it just me, or do they put ALOT of ice in their drinks? I mean, I understand you need to ice up your drinks but to the point where it looks half empty? Or maybe they just were half empty..? Who knows.. Either way, this bar looks like a must visit next time I'm out east.

No, it's totally not you at all. They put a ton of ice in their drinks. That was one of my main complaints.

Well, I was in NY on business last week and had the opportunity to check out Painkiller last Sunday. I was pretty amped up for it after hearing about how good the drinks are.


Hmmm . . wonder if this is the place?


I had to have the Zombie. Despite the one-and-your-done potency, I was really interested in tasting the original 1934 Don Beach recipe. Thankfully, the months of training I'd undergone prepared me for this drink and I avoided literal "zombie" status.


Others in our group had the 151 Swizzle, Cradles of Life, and Daiquiris. No complaints.

The focus at Painkiller is clearly on the drinks, and there they excel. Still, I'd like to see more escapist decor. It's a small place, so it wouldn't be difficult to TIPSY it up a bit more. I'd even consider donating one of my carvings if they'd use it.

The only good thing about the music we heard was, at least it wasn't Margaritaville. If you don't want to play Denny and Baxter, OK. But why, when there are so many contemporary surf and lounge bands to choose from must we listen to techno-pop?

That's all the bad I can say about Painkiller. Yeah, there's a lot of ice in the drinks, but at least in the case of the Zombie, that's not really a bad thing.

The drinks are excellent, though. So bring an iPod and enjoy yourself!

(edited to include group photo)



Classic Silver Line Boats

[ Edited by: SilverLine 2010-07-26 08:57 ]

I was at Painkiller last Thursday and I pretty much agree with everything you said. It's definitely all about the drinks. I figure the decor and the music were concessions made to keep the locals coming into the place. But I can put up with a lot if you give me a decent drink!

My only other complaint was with the barstools. They are bolted down and a bit too close to the bar. Felt like I was constantly leaning backward and it was kind of painful after a while.

Pics to be posted later.

T

Yeah, there's a lot of ice in the drinks, but at least in the case of the Zombie, that's not really a bad thing.

I agree. In fact I can't think of a reason why lots of ice would ever be a negative in tropical drinks (or in almost any drink). As long as they use quality ingredients, are properly measured & well-balanced, and they aren't skimping on rum I would rather have plenty of ice. It sounds like all these things are the case at Painkiller. If plenty of ice is used drinks stay nice and cold and don't get watery as fast. I've noticed when making drinks at home if not enough ice is used the ice tends to melt too fast and make the drink watery. Also, to fill large tiki mugs you sometimes have to pack them with ice (or else serve double or triple the usual recipe).

Found the comments about the ice-craze at Painkiller pretty much spot-on, but really was glad for it in the Zombie. As mentioned, their drinks are potent (well, especially the Zombie, as it should). The music? Eh...leave it.

Still, well worth a visit. Or two. In fact, I will be back there Tuesday night (9/7) if anyone wants to meet up. PM or post here!

GK

D

On 2010-07-21 14:43, thejab wrote:

Yeah, there's a lot of ice in the drinks, but at least in the case of the Zombie, that's not really a bad thing.

I agree. In fact I can't think of a reason why lots of ice would ever be a negative in tropical drinks (or in almost any drink). As long as they use quality ingredients, are properly measured & well-balanced, and they aren't skimping on rum I would rather have plenty of ice. It sounds like all these things are the case at Painkiller. If plenty of ice is used drinks stay nice and cold and don't get watery as fast. I've noticed when making drinks at home if not enough ice is used the ice tends to melt too fast and make the drink watery. Also, to fill large tiki mugs you sometimes have to pack them with ice (or else serve double or triple the usual recipe).

There's a difference between using alot of ice in the right amount, like say Trader Vic's does with their Mai Tais, and using way too much ice. At Painkiller they use waaaaay too much ice IMO. When I ordered my Mai Tai there it was a week after they had opened so giving the benefit of the doubt I thought the bartender was still getting acquainted with drinks and accidentally put in too much ice. But still I thought like I was kind of being ripped-off. There was more ice than there was drink, and THAT is very uncool. This is an area they need to work on.

[ Edited by: donhonyc 2010-09-09 03:44 ]

T

(Most) drinks at Painkiller are dry shaken then poured over a ton of crushed ice. From my experience, this extends the dilution process allowing for a less watery sip at the end. If you are not used to it, seeing an almost full vessel of ice when the drink is gone, might strike you wrong. I have not heard a single complaint about not getting enough alcohol or taste from the drinks. ; - )

Of course, you do always have the option of sipping longer and having more of a watery drink.

This is an attitude about serving crushed ice cocktails, not a glitch or misunderstanding.

I think it's great!

So, as with most things, to each his own.

Just got one of their menus from my sister yesterday. She said their Mai Tai was quite delicious.

D

On 2010-09-09 06:11, tabuzak wrote:
(Most) drinks at Painkiller are dry shaken then poured over a ton of crushed ice. From my experience, this extends the dilution process allowing for a less watery sip at the end. If you are not used to it, seeing an almost full vessel of ice when the drink is gone, might strike you wrong. I have not heard a single complaint about not getting enough alcohol or taste from the drinks. ; - )

Of course, you do always have the option of sipping longer and having more of a watery drink.

This is an attitude about serving crushed ice cocktails, not a glitch or misunderstanding.

I think it's great!

So, as with most things, to each his own.

Very true. I'll go with the technique angle, which makes sense, but IMO you have to at least let the customer know that you're giving them their dollar's worth. Your glass can't be filled two-thirds with ice, with the actual cocktail laying at the bottom. To be fair I compare any new Tiki cocktails that I have with what I consider the cream of the crop which would be Tiki-Ti, Mai Kai, and Trader Vic's. If the amount of ice is something you notice, then something's not right. Dry shaken or not. When you get a drink at Tiki-Ti or any of the other places mentioned the whole experience in seamless. There's no question about how it was prepared, and I think those establishments are at the top of the scale in terms of mixology. I had my first drinks at Lani Kai last night as I mentioned in the thread about that place. Same thing. There was no question about how it was prepared. It was amazing from beginning to end.

D

On 2010-09-09 06:11, tabuzak wrote:
(Most) drinks at Painkiller are dry shaken then poured over a ton of crushed ice. From my experience, this extends the dilution process allowing for a less watery sip at the end. If you are not used to it, seeing an almost full vessel of ice when the drink is gone, might strike you wrong. I have not heard a single complaint about not getting enough alcohol or taste from the drinks. ; - )

Of course, you do always have the option of sipping longer and having more of a watery drink.

This is an attitude about serving crushed ice cocktails, not a glitch or misunderstanding.

I think it's great!

So, as with most things, to each his own.

Very true. I'll go with the technique angle, which makes sense, but IMO you have to at least let the customer know that you're giving them their dollar's worth. Your glass can't be filled two-thirds with ice, with the actual cocktail laying at the bottom. To be fair I compare any new Tiki cocktails that I have with what I consider the cream of the crop which would be Tiki-Ti, Mai Kai, and Trader Vic's. If the amount of ice is something you notice, then something's not right. Dry shaken or not. When you get a drink at Tiki-Ti or any of the other places mentioned the whole experience is seamless. There's no question about how it was prepared, and I think those establishments are at the top of the scale in terms of mixology. I had my first drinks at Lani Kai last night as I mentioned in the thread about that place. Same thing. There was no question about how it was prepared. It was amazing from beginning to end.

[ Edited by: donhonyc 2010-11-18 17:27 ]

MH
Mr. Ho posted on Tue, Feb 1, 2011 7:24 PM

Pusser's Rum sued Painkiller forcing them to change their name to PKNY
http://bit.ly/mrYnbT

ps. Charles Tobias, founder and chairman of Pusser's stole and then copyrighted the Painkiller recipe...
http://charlestobias.com/2009/02/hello-world/

I am surprised this hasn't prompted more discussion here on TC?
Over on Facebook a large number of top bartenders around the world have pulled the product from their shelves in support of PKNY.

V

yeah, I read that. I think that is crazy, and is not really a good publicity for Pusser's.

What's the point of doing that ? It's a bar, not a new brand of rum (and even if it was...)

On 2011-06-12 03:02, cheekytiki wrote:
I am surprised this hasn't prompted more discussion here on TC?
Over on Facebook a large number of top bartenders around the world have pulled the product from their shelves in support of PKNY.

Wow, that is great to hear! I guess I was too jaded to expect such a thing to happen, good to hear such international solidarity exists! I mean what frickin' harm is it to Pusser's if the name gets used a little more. It is a very esoteric concept to begin with, and it's not like that bar was making millions from the use of it. But it might seriously harm them to have to change their name now. This type of suing really inhibits the evolution of pop cultures, it sucks.

[ Edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-06-13 00:13 ]

On 2011-06-12 05:34, virani wrote:
yeah, I read that. I think that is crazy, and is not really a good publicity for Pusser's.

What's the point of doing that ? It's a bar, not a new brand of rum (and even if it was...)

Gosling's has also registered "dark 'n' stormy"

D
Dagg posted on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 7:57 PM

never mind. figured it out

Thanks
D


[ Edited by: Dagg 2012-12-06 16:20 ]

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