Just published this item on the Times' Diner's Journal blog. If I didn't have a family—and one that would kill me if I went out drinking on Christmas Eve—this is where I'd be on Dec. 24.
By Robert Simonson
Starting this week, the painkilling will run both hot and cold at the Lower East Side tiki bar Painkiller.
Most drinkers associate tiki cocktails with huge heaps of shaved ice. But that, said Painkiller’s co-owner Giuseppe Gonzalez, is only part of the Polynesian playbook.
“Hot drinks are actually a very classic tiki thing,” said Mr. Gonzalez, noting that a good 20 percent of the classic concoctions found in the books of the tiki archeologist Jeff Berry are designed to be served warm. “It’s an escapist mentality that tiki bars try to inspire, so a lot of bars have hot drinks all year round no matter what. Trader Vic’s always had their famous Coffee Grog on the menu.”
Painkiller will offer the Coffee Grog — a mix of hot java, rum, a special batter and spices — as well as the 151 Buttered Rum and Hot Zombie. Mr. Gonzalez will also be doing a hot mai tai, his own invention. “It’s a deconstruction of the drink. Instead of lime juice, we just squeeze a lime wheel in there. There’s Curacao, house-made orgeat, a double measure of Jamaican rum, top that off with hot water and give that a float of almond cream.” Another spin on an old standby will be the warm Sazerac, “primarily because Donn Beach, the inventor of tiki, is actually from New Orleans, and the Sazerac is, to me, a drink that only gets better as it gets warmer. So why don’t we just serve it warm?”
Painkiller will likely start the new menu of hot drinks on Christmas Eve, “primarily because I’m going to be open,” said Mr. Gonzalez. “I’m a new bar and I got bills to pay, brother.” He will also be staffing the shakers on Christmas day, for those who choose to seek their cup of yuletide cheer outside the house.
The new year, meanwhile, will bring a reworked menu at Painkiller. “We’ll have a Painkiller top 10,” he said. “We’ll have staff picks, which don’t have to be tiki. Just to give people the impression that, yes, you’re in a tiki bar, but hey, we’re good at anything. We can make anything for you.”