The Bushwacker Cocktail

The bushwacker cocktail

The Spruce Eats / Preethi Venkatram

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 16 ounces
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
864 Calories
47g Fat
70g Carbs
6g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 864
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 47g 60%
Saturated Fat 37g 185%
Cholesterol 72mg 24%
Sodium 299mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 70g 25%
Dietary Fiber 8g 30%
Total Sugars 57g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 129mg 10%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 460mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

What's even better than a thick and luscious chocolate milkshake? A boozy just-for-adults chocolate milkshake!

The Bushwacker is a frozen, blended cocktail with a texture similar to the piña colada. It has been a tropical drink staple since the 1970s. While it's particularly popular at beach bars, there's no need to travel anywhere because it's easy to blend up a tasty Bushwacker at home.

What's in a Bushwacker Drink?

This frozen cocktail goes beyond just chocolate. Mixed in with the sweetness of crème de cacao, you'll enjoy the delightful flavors of dark rum, coffee liqueur, and cream of coconut. Add milk and a little ice, and it's a surprisingly nuanced frozen treat that's simply delicious. If you want to dress it up, top it with whipped cream, grated nutmeg, and a cherry.

Though this combination of ingredients is a long-accepted favorite in bars, there are many variations on the Bushwacker. Some use vodka, coconut rum, triple sec, amaretto, or Irish cream, and a few recipes even call for piña colada mix.

Why Is It Called a Bushwacker?

The name "Bushwacker" has a few meanings. It's often used in Australia and New Zealand for someone who lives in "the bush." In the U.S., it can refer to a person who wanders off the path in the woods. Historically, it was used to describe the American Civil War guerrillas who didn't pick a side.

This freewheeling, wild spirit may be why the cocktail picked up the name. Another legend is that the drink was named after the dog owned by a patron of the Ship’s Store & Sapphire Pub, where the Bushwacker was born.

Where Was the Bushwacker Invented?

The origins of the Bushwacker cocktail lies in the Virgin Islands. Bartender Angie Conigliaro of the Ship’s Store & Sapphire Pub in St. Thomas is credited with inventing the drink in 1975. However, it didn't become popular until Linda Taylor Murphy fell in love with the drink on a visit and decided to recreate the drink at her own bar, The Sandshaker Lounge, back in Florida.

The staff at the Sandshaker devised their own take on the delicious cocktail, and it quickly became a hit. Today, Bushwackers are enjoyed at bars far away from any ocean, and there are countless interpretations of the cocktail.

What's the Best Rum for a Bushwacker?

There's a lot going on in the Bushwacker, so there's no need to go overboard on the rum. A good, inexpensive rum will work and if you don't have dark rum in stock, a light one will also do.

What Is Crème de Cacao?

Crème de cacao is a popular chocolate liqueur, and many brands produce it. The dark variety will add to the Bushwacker's flavor and color, but the white version works just as well.

What's the Difference Between Cream of Coconut and Coconut Cream?

As you're shopping for ingredients, be sure to read the labels and pick up the correct coconut product! Like the piña colada, The Bushwacker calls for cream of coconut and not coconut cream. Cream of coconut is a thick, sweetened syrup that's typically used in cocktails. Coconut cream is, on the other hand, a thick, but unsweetened cream that comes from chilling coconut milk. You'll often find coconut cream next to coconut milk at the supermarket, while cream of coconut usually sits in the mixer aisle. It may also be available at your local liquor store.

Popular cream of coconut brands like Coco Lopez generally come in 15-ounce cans so you'll have plenty leftover after making a Bushwacker. Use the remainder to make other cocktails (like this creamy mojito!, coconut cake, coconut cheesecake, and other tropical-inspired recipes.


Click Play to See This Indulgent Bushwacker Cocktail Come Together

“A decidedly potent adult milkshake. This cocktail is reminiscent of island vacation fare with its mix of rum and coconut with hints of chocolate and coffee.” —Joan Velush

The Bushwacker Cocktail/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 cup ice

  • 1 ounce dark rum

  • 1 ounce coffee liqueur

  • 1 ounce dark crème de cacao liqueur

  • 2 ounces cream of coconut

  • 2 ounces milk

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make the bushwacker cocktail

    The Spruce Eats / Preethi Venkatram

  2. In a blender, add the ice, rum, coffee liqueur, crème de cacao, cream of coconut, and milk. Blend until smooth.

    Ice, rum, coffee liqueur, crème de cacao, cream of coconut, and milk blended in a blender

    The Spruce Eats / Preethi Venkatram

  3. Pour into a chilled hurricane glass. Serve and enjoy.

    A bushwacker cocktail served in a hurricane glass

    The Spruce Eats / Preethi Venkatram

Recipe Variations

  • Add as much ice as you like to change the Bushwacker's consistency. You might even like to start with 1/2 cup (about 2 or 3 average-sized ice cubes), blend it up, and add more for a slushier drink.
  • Skip the milk and use a scoop of ice cream instead; ice cubes can be added for volume.
  • Make it dairy free by using vanilla soy milk or almond milk.
  • The recipe that some claim is the Sandshaker's original Bushwacker uses 4 ounces each of cream of coconut, half-and-half, and vanilla ice cream, 2 ounces of coffee liqueur, 1 ounce each of black rum and both varieties of crème de cacao, and 2 cups of ice. It's blended, poured into two glasses, and each is topped with 1 ounce of 151-proof rum.
  • Some Bushwacker recipes use just vodka, while others combine vodka and coconut rum.
  • Amaretto and Irish cream are often used together when they make an appearance in Bushwackers.
  • A small shot of triple sec can give any Bushwacker a citrus twist that's quite delicious, particularly with vodka.
  • Bottled piña colada mix is sometimes used instead of cream of coconut. Adding the pineapple element takes away from the chocolate intention of this cocktail just a bit.

How to Store

  • This recipe can fill a tall hurricane glass or three smaller glasses. If you have leftovers, keep it frozen until you're ready for the next round.
  • Use your freezer to store a party's worth of Bushwackers that are prepared in advance. Just let the drinks warm up a bit—obviously, not enough to melt—before serving so they're drinkable.

How Strong Is the Bushwacker?

Most frozen cocktails are generally low-proof drinks. This Bushwacker weighs in at about 6 percent ABV (12 proof), but it is easy to overindulge. It can become too strong when the liquor is overpoured and the sweet taste brings you back for more. It's also important to keep in mind that frozen drinks are often enjoyed in the hot sun by drinkers who don't eat enough food to absorb the alcohol. Take it easy with delicious drinks like this, and be sure to drink plenty of water when partying in the summer.