Whenever you’re craving a summery drink, nuance really doesn’t factor into the equation. You want something that’s refreshing enough to make you stop sweating in all those weird places and strong enough to get you drunk. The flavors are really quite often secondary, but they don’t have to be. If you’re craving a cocktail that will make you feel like you’re on an island — when in reality you’re in a place called Cowtown — head to Fort Worth for the Painkiller at Grace.
Grace is a swanky fine-dining type restaurant, but their bar is not to be discounted. Entirely separate from the quiet, peaceful dining room, the bar area is buzzing with twentysomethings and professionals who’ve walked over from the neighboring office buildings. The wine selection is solid, they serve plenty of great sparklers and the cocktail menu is sophisticated and interesting. But this time of year, the only thing that will do is the Painkiller, a classic tiki cocktail older than your grandmother.
Made with coconut cream (or milk, in a cheap joint) and rum, a Painkiller is an excellent, underrated drink. Too many bars took to buying those cocktail mixers that promised to offer all that delicious coconut-spice-lime flavor in a convenient bottle with a pour spout, a promise that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Here the ingredients are fresh, resulting in a Painkiller that is sophisticated and sippable enough to get you into some real trouble.
The cocktail here is made with real coconut cream, which imparts a richness that is impossible to achieve with any other cocktail mixer. It is creamy without being cloying and adds excellent texture. Cruzan rum is the only spirit used in the drink, unlike the traditional combination of demerara rum and rhum agricole, but it lends just enough spiciness and sweetness to do the job. A shot of pineapple juice adds much-needed acidity, even if it didn’t taste particularly fresh. The freshly grated nutmeg over the top provided a simple garnish and plenty of baking spice flavor that is inherent in a Painkiller.
At Grace, you can also choose to infuse your Painkiller with fruit-flavored rum, including mango or pineapple Cruzan, or you could just stick with traditional dark rum. The latter is probably your best option, as fruit-infused rums tend to just not be as good as the regular, slightly spicy stuff, and you’ll miss that deep molasses and spice from the dark rum. Grace doesn’t offer fresh fruit puree floaters, though that would certainly be a nice touch, but at $8 their absence is understandable.
To some, this would seem like a dumbed-down version of a drink that has deep historical roots. The Painkiller is a trademarked cocktail, owned by Pusser’s Rum, but most of us have no idea in hell what Pusser’s Rum is. Compared with the crap Painkillers that can be found on many summer cocktail menus, this iteration at Grace is downright impressive. An additional shot of rhum agricole probably wouldn’t hurt either, come to think of it.
But this Painkiller has not been overthought or overwrought, and that is what makes it so impressive. Once you’ve downed a couple, you won’t even really care that it isn’t the most traditional drink; you’ll just want another, and to try to figure out how the hell you’re going to pay for an Uber all the way back to Dallas.