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The Bushwacker drink is like a mashup of a chocolate milkshake and piña colada! This boozy frozen cocktail stars Kahlua and creme de cacao.

Bushwacker drink

Here’s a frozen cocktail that will blow your mind with its creamy, chocolaty flavor: the Bushwacker drink! This one is equal parts refreshing and rich…and man, are we glad it’s now part of our repertoire. Invented in the 1970’s, the Bushwacker is a mashup of a chocolate milkshake and piña colada. It’s lusciously smooth with notes of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. It’s perfect for sipping poolside or as a dessert drink any time you’re dreaming of sun. Here’s how to make the best Bushwacker on the planet.

What’s a Bushwacker?

The Bushwacker is as frozen alcoholic drink made with Kahlua, rum, creme de cacao, and cream of coconut. It was invented in 1975 in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, and has since become very popular especially in Florida and beach resorts. How did it get its name? The story goes that bartender Angie Conigliaro and restaurant manager Tom Brokamp named it after a guest’s dog, an Afghan hound named Bushwack!

What’s in a Bushwacker? This frozen milkshake relies on classic cocktail ingredients blended to perfection…not ice cream as you might expect! Here’s what you’ll need for a classic Bushwacker drink:

  • Aged rum
  • Kahlua
  • Creme de cacao
  • Cream of coconut (not coconut cream! see below)
  • Milk
  • Ice

Let’s chat through the more unique ingredients, shall we?

Bushwacker drink

What’s creme de cacao?

Despite what you might think, creme de cacao is not creamy or made with dairy! This special liqueur is what makes a Grasshopper and a Chocolate Martini, and it’s one of the oldest liqueurs around. Here’s more about why to add it to your collection:

  • Creme de cacao is a chocolate liqueur, available in both white (clear) and dark varieties. It’s possibly one of the first alcoholic beverages, made in the 1600’s by monks after cocoa beans were brought back to Europe from America (source). The original Bushwacker had dark creme de cacao, but white is more commonly used so we white used it here.
  • What does creme de cacao taste like? White creme de cacao tastes like milk chocolate with notes of vanilla. Dark creme de cacao tastes richer with dark chocolate notes.
  • How much does creme de cacao cost? It costs between $10 to $20 for a 750 ml bottle.
  • Is it worth buying? Yes, if you like dessert drinks! Use it to make creme de cacao drinks like the Brandy AlexanderChocolate Martini, or Grasshopper.

Make sure it’s cream of coconut (not coconut cream)

Another important ingredient in the Bushwacker drink: cream of coconut! If you read one thing in this article, note this: Buy cream of coconut, not coconut cream! What’s the difference? Here’s what to know: cream of coconut vs coconut cream:

  • Cream of coconut is a sweetened syrup for drinks! It’s made with coconut cream and lots of added sugar. Because it’s used in drinks, it’s sold in handy squeeze bottles. Cream of coconut is easy to find online or at your local liquor store. A popular brand is Coco Real.
  • Coconut cream is unsweetened: it’s very thick and has a strong coconut flavor. It’s typically sold in cans next to the coconut milk. Coconut cream is made from chilling coconut milk and then skimming off the layer of cream that floats to the top.

What if you accidentally buy coconut cream? You can still save your Bushwhacker drink! Use 1 ounce coconut cream and 1 ounce simple syrup in place of the 2 ounces cream of coconut.

More with cream of coconut? Try popular coconut cocktails like the Piña Colada, Chi Chi, Painkiller, Coconut Martini or Bushwacker!

Use Kahlua or any coffee liqueur!

The last ingredient of note in the Bushwacker drink? Kahlua! Kahlua is a type of coffee liqueur: the most popular brand, in fact. But what actually is it?

  • Kahlua is a coffee liqueur that’s made in Mexico. It’s made with rum, sugar and coffee. Again, there’s no dairy in it! It’s naturally dark brown in color and tastes like sweetened coffee. Kahlua has caffeine, but it’s only about 25% as much as the same volume of coffee.
  • How much does Kahlua cost? It costs about $15 to $20 for a large 750 ml bottle.
  • Is it worth buying? Yes, there are lots of Kahlua drinks to use it in! Try it in a Mudslide, Espresso Martini, B-52, Kahlua Coffee, Mind Eraser, Colorado Bulldog, Black Russian or White Russian.

How to make a Bushwacker drink: a few tips!

Once you’ve got your specialty liquors, mixing up the Bushwacker drink is a breeze! Here are a few things to note:

  • You can use any type of rum; we like aged best. Aged rum has the most delicious, nuanced flavor with notes of vanilla and oak. But you can use whatever rum you have on hand! White and dark work too.
  • Use any type of milk. Anything you have on hand works, from 2% to whole.
  • The drink tends to separate, which is normal. Just stir it up with your straw while drinking!

More sweet & frozen drinks

The Bushwacker is one in a family of sweet cocktails and frozen alcoholic drinks. Here are a few related drinks you might enjoy:

  • Painkiller It’s an even tastier, more sophisticated pina colada! It also uses cream of coconut.
  • Strawberry Daiquiri The best daiquiri is homemade, made from frozen strawberries!
  • Frozen Margarita The best tangy flavor! The frozen version of everyone’s favorite, the margarita.

When to serve a Bushwacker drink

The Bushwacker cocktail is creamy and refreshing! It’s great as a:

  • Summer drink
  • Poolside or lake house drink
  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Signature cocktail
  • Girls night drink

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Bushwacker drink

Classic Bushwacker

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 drinks 1x


The Bushwacker drink is like a mashup of a chocolate milkshake and piña colada! This boozy frozen cocktail stars Kahlua and creme de cacao.


  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) aged rum (or white or dark)
  • 2 ounces Kahlua
  • 2 ounces creme de cacao (white or dark; we used white)
  • 2 ounces cream of coconut
  • 2 ounces 2% milk
  • 3 cups ice
  • For the garnish: Shaved chocolate or grated nutmeg, cocktail cherry (optional)


  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Garnish with shaved chocolate or grated nutmeg, if desired. Add straws and serve. (You can stir with the straw when the drink starts to separate.)
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Bushwacker drink

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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  1. This is so delicious! I wanted something different than a variation of rum punch or with soda So glad to have tried this! Other recipes online used many other ingredients but this is simple and tastes even better (I tried two others; one adding amaretto and the other using coconut rum)

  2. This drink was so good!
    I would love to make it to bring to a Mardi Gras party … could I leave the ice out, and put it in the freezer?
    By the time we get out to our party it would probably be thawed enough to pour out.
    Any ideas?

    1. There’s an idea! I think with the alcohol in it it may not fully freeze and remain slushy but I’m not sure. I would still blend with ice or you won’t get the full flavor. Let us know if you try it (just make sure to leave a little room for expansion)!

  3. In 2000 my family of four took a vacation to St Thomas. We have friends who moved there in the late ’80s, so we had our own personal guide. We stayed in St Thomas, took a one-day ferry ride to St John, and chartered a boat to the British Virgin Islands. This is when I was first introduced to the drink, Bushwacker, which is now my drink of choice. We go back to the islands every year. In 2017 our son followed his dream, and moved to St Thomas, about a year later he moved to St Croix. One time we went to a nice restaurant in Texas, and I asked for a Bushwacker, he had never heard of it before. I told him to go online and look up the recipe. It was not the same as the ones I get in the virgin islands. But it was close enough to give me the memories of our vacations in the islands. If if you’ve never had one, I suggest you try it. Small warning, it is a strong drink. It’s an excellent drink for sitting on the lounge chair at the beach. very good.

  4. This is one of my favorite drinks. I fell in love with the Bushwacker on my first trip to St. Thomas.

    Delicious!! Thanks for sharing your recipe. It’s also delicious with some amaretto mixed in.

    1. The name of the place that came up with the original Bushwacker is Paradise Point which overlooks the cruise ship dock in Havensight.

      This recipe is a bit off and missing couple of ingredients…. There isnt milk in a bushwacker, the “milk” in a Bushwacker comes from the Irish Cream which is a must for a Bushwacker.

      I know people that work there and the original/official recipe isnt a big secret

      The original Paradise Point recipe is:
      2 oz. Rum
      6 oz. Bailey’s or another Irish Cream
      4 oz. Amaretto
      4 oz. Kahlua or Coffee liquour
      2 oz. Vodka
      Some people add Creme De Cacao, original recipe did not

      Generous addition of cream of coconut, most bars in St. Thomas use Coco Lopez.

      Usual way to serve it is to swirl a bit of chocolate syrup on the sides of a empty glass, add drink, top with whipped cream, Nutmeg and cherry on top of that….. The only thing in the drink that isnt alcohol is the Coco Lopez and the ice…..

      1. Thank you for posting this official Paradise Point recipe. We just got back from St. Thomas and I wanted to make this here at home. You didn’t mention the amount of ice but I would imagine the 3 cups would be about right. I will also add peanut butter as I had the Paddywacker on Water Island which is the Bushwacker recipe with a scoop of peanut butter. Will also do the chocolate swirl on the cup.

      2. Thank you so much for providing the original recipe! We went on a cruise in March, to St. Thomas and St. Maarten. I had the best Bushwacker at the cruise ship port in St. Maarten. I asked the Island Bartender how she made it, and tried to make a mental note. She was quite busy, but one thing she said that I wish she had clarified, was “ice cream milk”. I know that could be one of several things. I made the closest recipe that I could find when I got home to relive the island experience. So, now grateful I found your original recipe! Thank you!

  5. Your cream of coconut link takes me to Amazon where there are some questionable choices. What exactly do you use? Is the Coco Real Cream of Coconut a good one?

  6. We recently got back from St. Thomas and I had multiples of this. On Water Island they add a scoop of peanut butter and coat the inside of the cup with chocolate sauce to make a Paddywacker. It’s delicious!

  7. Have you tried it in an ice cream maker? When I was at the Flora Bama…they have their Bushwacker in a soft serve type machine. I have one that I make ice cream in and was wondering if this would work. I’m planning to try it but wanted to know if anyone else had already tried it and how it went.

  8. First time I tried the Bushwaker was at Flora-Bama on the Orange Beach border of Florida and Alabama, But with a shot of Fireball (Cinnamon spirit ). I had 2 and I was gone into a very happy place hahaha 😆.
    This will be our next party treat, just delicious.