Growing up, I had what one might refer to as an “absentee father.” He would disappear for extended periods of time; months, years, only to briefly return, feign some interest in my life, then disappear again. As the years passed, in between years of no contact, my eagerness to make him proud vanished.
And so it went, until finally one day I reached out to him. I don’t remember much about that conversation at all, except that when he had found out that I was a bartender, he counterfeited genuine concern for me in the guise of some hobby I had become obsessed with.
“Do you know how to make a Painkiller?” he asked.
For me, that hobby grew into a career, and in the years in between sporadic conversations, whenever talking about my life, my father would continue to bring up the God-damned Painkiller. I began to associate that cocktail with his phantom parenting, and in turn, I came to ignore it. I refused to try it. I refused to learn how to make it. I refused to answer its phone calls. All the while the people around me raved about what a great drink it was. I, however, refused.
After my last article where I wrote about a passion fruit cocktail at Sycamore Den, people kept telling me about a must-try passion fruit cocktail at The Grass Skirt (910 Grand Ave.) in Pacific Beach. Upon my arrival at the Grass Skirt, I sat at the bar and sifted through the menu only to find that the cocktail in question was none other than a Painkiller: a passion fruit variation of my abandonment issues. I sat for a moment in stubborn refusal, and thought about writing something else. There were plenty of delicious other options on the menu, but ultimately I decided that the addition of passion fruit made this Painkiller cocktail different enough to eliminate any concern I might have of accepting my father’s lack of caring.
With my first sip I was hesitant, with my second I was smiling, but with my third I was retrospective. Is this what I have been missing my entire life?
When describing food and drink, people tend to throw the adjective “balanced” around like confetti, but this thing was a petite Russian gymnast. This Painkiller was tart, sour and sweet with a lush mouthfeel and a lingering earthy bite that only rum can lend. I came to realize, by my fourth sip, that I love Painkillers. This entire time I could have been enjoying these things, but due to my own irrational insecurities, I refused. I am not sure how much of this realization I owe to the passion fruit, but I guess sometimes a different perspective is what is needed. And with that thought, I began to wonder if I had always been an absentee son, rather than the other way around. If I had really been the one causing the pain. I guess that is something to be contemplated over a future Painkiller.
as found at The Grass Skirt
2 1/2 oz. of Rum blend (Appleton, Hamilton Navy Strength, Coruba Coconut, Smith & Cross, Kraken, Matusalem, Brujal Anejo)
2 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. passion fruit purée
1 oz. coconut cream
3/4 oz. lime juice
All ingredients are whipped with pebble ice and poured into a Tiki tumbler. The cocktail is garnished with two pineapple leaves that have a purple skill swizzle through it. Serve with bendy straw.