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49 Essex Street
New York, NY
Opened in 2010
Closed in 2013
by 7 people
Painkiller was opened by Giuseppe Gonzalez and Richard Boccato on Manhattan's Lower East Side in May 2010. The small space dictated a streamlined decor approach, with heavy use of bamboo and flat artwork on the walls. The decor was a mix of simple tiki (in the form of untreated bamboo and flat Indonesian import masks), and graffiti artwork inspired both by the local neighborhood and tiki history.
The bar itself was a bit high, and the immovable stools were also high and close to the bar; sitting at the bar could be a challenge for the large or the small. The seating in the back rooms was comfy, though, and standing at the bar worked, too.
The emphasis at Painkiller was on the cocktails, with lots of modern variations inspired by old classics. The menu did not list specific drinks, rather it was a list of drink categories, intended to spark conversation with your bartender to help you find a drink you'll love. Drinks were well-crafted, and served in tiki mugs, with piņa coladas served in frozen pineapples.
After a legal dispute with Pusser's Rum, owners of the "Painkiller" trademark, the bar changed its name to PKNY.
Painkiller closed in July 2013 after losing their lease.