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.
Bushwacker

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.
Bushwacker

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

Print
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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
  • Diet: Vegetarian

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 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)

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.)
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

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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3 Comments

  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)