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Painkiller vs. Pusser’s: Blog-Rolling the Tiki Battle

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In the 48 hours since we broke the story of Painkiller’s legal battle with a British Virgin Islands rum manufacturer, supporters of the beloved LES tiki bar have taken to their keyboards. Twitter went wild with the news, and as of today, there are at least three Facebook pages dedicated to punishing Pusser’s Rum Ltd. To recap: Pusser’s demanded, successfully, in federal court that Painkiller surrender the name of its bar, the name of its signature drink and its website domain to protect trademarks it holds. Pusser’s sells cocktails and mixers using the Painkiller name, and claims its rum uses the same recipe as that doled out by the British Royal Navy to its seamen as far back as the 17th century.

The battle has taken on epic proportions, with bartenders and tiki bar fans taking up the side of Painkiller owners Guiseppe Gonzalez and Richard Boccato, two heavyweights in the world of artisan cocktails. (The pair have renamed their Essex Street place PKNY, and declined comment to The Lo-Down on the entire matter.)

If you need to catch up with our original story, it’s here. If you’re ready for the next round, a growing body of interesting and thoughtful commentary is springing up all over the web. A sampling:

  • Joshua Hoffman, Spirited Cocktails blog
  • Gary Regan, author of the Worldwide Bartender Bulletin and the Ardent Spirits newsletter, on his Ardent Spirits blog
  • Daniel Priseman, a Drinks Writer of the Year nominee, on his Bitters and Twisted blog
  • Jacob Grier, a Portland, Ore., mixologist and writer, on his Liquidity Preference blog
  • A collection of Seattle bartenders, via Seattle Met Magazine
  • And if you want to see the more, ahem, colorful commentary, check out the comments posted by Painkiller supporters on Pusser’s official Facebook page. An example: “The bottle is designed perfectly for collecting dust which is sure to happen in distribution warehouses across America thanks to your silly lawsuit. Poor form Pusser’s…very poor form!”




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