Many tourists and local Virgin Islanders have enjoyed a Painkiller cocktail over the years, particulary visitors to the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, where the tropical concoction is made with the U.S. Virgin Islands' Cruzan Rum.
A New York Bar known as the Painkiller, thought to capitalize on the popularity of the drink when it opened on the Lower East Side of Manhattan over a year ago. But the bar's legal reign as Painkiller has come to a painful end. Due to a federal law suit brought by Pusser's Rum Ltd., the bar will now have to go under the moniker PKNY.
Pusser's has also demanded that Painkiller turn over its website address and stop selling the rum cocktail know as Painkiller (which, according to Pusser's, has to be made with their rum).
The British Virgin Islands rum manufacturer holds two trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, one for "alcoholic fruit drinks with fruit juices and cream of coconut and coconut juice," and another for "non-alcoholic mixed fruit juices," which they market as "Pusser’s Painkiller Cocktail Mix".
Pusser's lawsuit was filed April 12 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Plaintiff Pusser’s Rum Ltd., "sued tiki bar owners Giuseppe Gonzalez and Richard Boccato, claiming irreparable harm to its brand, unfair competition and unfair business practices, according to court documents on file."
That Pusser's successfully copyrighted the Painkiller cocktail name is quite interesting. According Jerry O'Connell, who currently owns the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands, the Painkiller (a blend of pineapple juice, orange juice, coconut cream, rum, cinnamon and nutmeg) was invented in 1971 by George and Mari Myrick, previous owners of the Soggy Dollar.
O'Connell noted that the Myricks originally made the drink with the U.S. Virgin Islands Cruzan Dark Rum. But now Pusser's—founded a decade after the drink was created—is the official, legal rum for a Painkiller.
Pusser's Rum may have won the battle, but it may well lose a very long and painful war. It's legal gamemanship with the Painkiller Bar in New York has already inspired some bad blood among the bartenders nationwide. Within hours of the announcement of the bar's forced name change, various bartenders and industry figures proclaimed on Facebook their wrath toward Pusser's, and were advocating boycotting Pusser's Rum.
To date, there has been no comment from Fortune Brands, owner of Cruzan Rum on St. Croix, but many Virgin Islanders have reported stated that notwithstanding the lawsuit and the legal pronouncement of Pusser's being the official rum for Painkillers that they will still continue to enjoy their libation with Cruzan Dark Rum.