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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 in glass with cherry and chocolate shavings
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Here’s a frozen cocktail that will blow your mind with its creamy, chocolaty flavor: the Bushwacker drink! It’s equal parts refreshing and rich—essentially a mashup of a chocolate milkshake and piña colada.

Why we love this recipe: The Bushwacker is lusciously smooth with notes of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. It’s perfect for sipping poolside as a summer cocktail, or as a dessert drink any time you’re dreaming of sun. Here’s everything you need to know to make it!

Bushwacker cocktail ingredients

The Bushwacker is a frozen cocktail made with rum, Kahlua, creme de cacao, cream of coconut, and milk, known for its creamy texture, sweet flavor, and boozy kick. Invented in the 1970’s in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, it has since become popular in Florida and the American South. What’s in a Bushwacker? This frozen boozy milkshake relies on these ingredients blended to perfection:

  • Rum: Dark rum is common in a Bushwacker, but you can use aged or white rum. We like this drink with aged rum (golden or añejo), because it has subtle flavor notes of vanilla, coconut, and caramel.
  • Kahlua: Kahlua is a coffee liqueur that’s made in Mexico. You can use other types of coffee liqueur like Tia Maria.
  • Creme de cacao: This chocolate liqueur carries the milkshake flavor.
  • Cream of coconut: Make sure to buy cream of coconut, a sweetened syrup for drinks (not coconut cream, which is a different product).
  • Milk and ice: Any type of milk works here, from 2% to whole to non-dairy milk like oat milk or almond milk. Blend everything with ice to make the Bushwacker!

The story behind the name?

The Bushwacker was invented at the Ship’s Store Pub in St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands in 1975 as a tropical spin on the White Russian by bartender Angie Conigliaro and manager Tom Brokamp. Apparently they named it after a guest’s dog, an Afghan hound named Bushwack!

Bushwacker Drink in glass with chocolate shavings and cherry

How to make a Bushwacker drink: step by step

Once you’ve got your specialty liquors, mixing up the Bushwacker drink is a breeze! Here’s what to do (or jump to the full recipe):

  • Step 1: Place 2 ounces (¼ cup) each rum, Kahlua, creme de cacao, cream of coconut, and 2% milk in a blender. Add 3 cups ice and blend.
  • Step 2: Pour into a glass and garnish with a straw. Garnish with a maraschino cherry for a classic presentation. The drink tends to separate, which is normal: just stir it up with your straw while drinking!

Pro tip: There’s no dairy in any of the liqueurs in a Bushwacker drink, so it’s easy to make it a dairy free or vegan cocktail using oat milk.

What is creme de cacao?

Despite what you might think, creme de cacao is not creamy or made with dairy! This special liqueur is one of the oldest around. Here’s more about it:

  • Creme de cacao is a chocolate liqueur, available in both white 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 easier to find and what we call for here.
  • What does creme de cacao taste like? White creme de cacao tastes like milk chocolate with notes of vanilla. The darkvariety tastes richer with dark chocolate notes.
  • 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.

Look for cream of coconut

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 about cream of coconut vs coconut cream:

  • Cream of coconut is a sweetened syrup for drinks, made with coconut cream and sugar. It’s sold in handy squeeze bottles (a popular brand is Coco Real). Cream of coconut is easy to find online or at liquor stores. Use up leftovers in coconut cocktails like the Piña Colada, Chi Chi, Painkiller, or Coconut Martini.
  • Coconut cream is unsweetened, 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. Avoid using it in cocktails!

Pro tip: If you accidentally buy coconut cream, you can still save your Bushwhacker drink! Use 1 oz coconut cream and 1 oz simple syrup in place of the 2 oz cream of coconut.

Use Kahlua or any coffee liqueur

The last ingredient of note in the Bushwacker drink is Kahlua, a popular brand of coffee liqueur. Here’s more about it:

Bushwacker Drink

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:

Frequently asked questions

What exactly is a Bushwacker?

This frozen cocktail is a tropical blend of rum, coffee liqueur, cream of coconut, dark crème de cacao, and cream or milk. It’s known for its creamy texture, sweet flavor profile, and boozy kick.

Is a Bushwacker strong?

Generally, it’s not an overly strong drink, but it packs enough alcohol content to be enjoyed responsibly.

What does a Bushwacker taste like?

The dominant flavors are chocolate and coconut, with hints of coffee and rum. The creaminess adds a luxurious mouthfeel, and the overall taste is sweet and refreshing.

Is a Bushwacker similar to a Piña Colada?

While both are creamy and tropical, a Piña Colada features rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut. The Bushwacker adds coffee liqueur, dark crème de cacao, and skips the pineapple juice, resulting in a more chocolatey and coffee-forward flavor.

What kind of rum is best for a Bushwacker?

Dark rum is the traditional choice, offering a deeper flavor compared to lighter rums. However, you can also aged rum (anejo) with great results. White rum works too, and has a more straightforward flavor.

Can I use a different type of milk?

Yes! Opt for whole milk for a richer texture, or skim milk for a lighter option. You can also use non-dairy milks like oat milk and almond milk, which make this drink vegan and dairy-free.

What’s the best way to serve a Bushwacker?

Serve your Bushwacker in a chilled hurricane glass for a festive touch. Garnish with a maraschino cherry for a classic presentation.

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Bushwacker drink

Classic Bushwacker


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.7 from 11 reviews

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

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) aged, white or dark rum*
  • 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)

Instructions

  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.)

Notes

*We like using aged rum in this drink, since it brings oak and vanilla undertones. But either white or dark rum work as well. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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17 Comments

  1. Ronnie Grice says:

    We were first introduced to a Bushwacker while visiting our good friend in Sweet Home Alabama and fell in love ❤️!
    We live in sunny Arizona, in the tri-state area.
    We have a pool and will introduce the Bushwacker to our friends in the southwest. Being dog lovers, we love that it was named after a dog named bushwack.






  2. Anonymous says:

    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.






  3. Jill Lionberger says:

    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.






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We haven’t tried it, but that sounds great!

  4. Steve Pritchard says:

    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!






  5. Tim Carpenter says:

    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?
    Thanks!
    Tim

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Yes, that’s the one we use.

  6. Todd Eilbacher says:

    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. Grant A says:

      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. Steve Pritchard says:

        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. Leslie A. says:

        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!






  7. Sandy Pleasant says:

    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.






  8. Andrea Deffes says:

    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. Alex Overhiser says:

      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)!

  9. Isabella says:

    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)






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Sabrina says:

    what a fun, even maybe super fun, summer weekend cocktail, thank you!