Bushwacker Drink Recipe: Upgrade This Classic With Coffee!
The Bushwacker is variously described as an adult milkshake or a chocolate piña colada. How can you say no to that? We even took it a step further, turning this classic cocktail into a coffee lover’s dream with the addition of cold brew concentrate.
Don’t let the long list of Bushwacker cocktail ingredients intimidate you. Once you have everything in hand, making this drink couldn’t be easier with this simple recipe. So let’s get started.
What You Need
- 2 ounces aged rum
- 2 ounces Kahlua
- 2 ounces cold brew concentrate
- 2 ounces creme de cacao
- 2 ounces cream of coconut
- 2 ounces 2% milk
- 3 cups of ice cubes
- Optional garnishes: whipped cream, chocolate syrup, grated nutmeg, maraschino cherries
At A Glance:
Two 10-ounce drinks
What Is Bushwacker Drink?
The Bushwacker is a blended frozen cocktail. It takes the classic pairing of chocolate and coffee and adds coconut cream for a tropical twist (1). It is often garnished with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and a maraschino cherry for that retro driner chocolate milkshake appeal.
The Bushwacker was invented in 1975 in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, at the Ship’s Store Sapphire Pub. Bartender Angie Conigliaro and manager Tom Brokamp devised the drink and named it for a guest’s dog, an Afghan hound named Bushwack.
The boozy coffee cocktail spread like wildfire. The frozen drinks really took off in nearby Florida, where there are now nearly as many variations as there are bars – with additions like triple sec, vanilla ice cream, coconut rum, or Irish Cream. It is so popular that there is an annual Bushwacker Festival held in Pensacola Beach (2).
What Is In A Bushwacker Drink?
The original Bushwacker recipe has rum, Kahlua, créme de cacao, cream of coconut, and milk – all blended with ice to a smooth drink. Our Bushwacker cocktail recipe adds cold brew concentrate to emphasize the coffee flavor, but you can leave it out if you want to stick with tradition.
Cold Brew Concentrate
You can buy store-bought cold brew concentrate on keeping this recipe as simple as possible. But making a cold brew at home is very easy and cost-effective. We’ve included a recipe as an optional first step below.
The traditional choice for this drink is aged rum, which has spent more time in oak casks to give it a darker color and more nuanced character. Aged and dark rum aren’t necessarily the same thing, as some brands will simply add color to their rum to darken it without aging. You can use aged, dark, or white rum in a Bushwacker, and it will still be delicious.
The Bushwacker has two liqueur flavors, both of which should be available at your local liquor store.
- Kahlua coffee liqueur is made from Arabica coffee, rum, and sugar.
- Crème de Cacao is a chocolate liqueur made from vodka, cocoa beans, and sugar. It can be clear or amber-colored, the latter of which is called Dark Creme de Cacao. Either works in this recipe.
Cream of Coconut
Cream of coconut is a thick coconut syrup made from coconut milk and sugar. Think of it as the coconut version of sweetened condensed milk. It is not the same as coconut cream, which does not contain sugar. However, you can substitute coconut cream for a less sweet version of the Bushwacker.
How To Make A Bushwacker
Have you assembled all those ingredients? Then your drink is almost done! Here’s a quick guide to putting it all together.
1. Make Cold Brew Concentrate (Optional)
If you didn’t buy cold brew concentrate, you can make it by combining 10 ounces of cold water with 50 g of coarsely ground coffee in a mason jar. Let it steep at room temperature or in the fridge for 24 hours, then pour it through a paper filter to remove the grounds. You should be left with 8 ounces of cold brew concentrate.
Pro tip: This step makes enough for eight Bushwackers. You can keep leftover cold brew in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
2. Blend All Ingredients
Add 3 cups of ice to a blender. Add 2 ounces each of dark rum, creme de cacao, Kahlua, cold brew concentrate, cream of coconut, and milk. Blend until you have a uniform creamy mixture. If it seems too thick, add milk a tablespoon at a time to thin it.
Pro tip: For a creamier version, add a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
3. Garnish And Serve
Divide the mixture from the blender into two tall glasses. The bulbous hurricane glass is a traditional choice.
Garnish with a swirl of whipped cream, one or two maraschino cherries, a drizzle of choco syrup, and a dusting of fresh nutmeg. This drink is all about excess, so don’t skimp on the fun toppings.
Pro tip: When making a frozen cocktail, it is always worth the extra step of pre-chilling your serving glass so it doesn’t melt too fast.
This Bushwacker cocktail for coffee lovers is my favorite variation on the classic. It’s as rich and creamy as the original recipe, with the bittersweet cold brew concentrate adding balance – plus an always-welcome caffeine boost.
The Bushwacker and Mudslide are both creamy cocktails featuring coffee and booze. However, a Mudslide has vodka, Baileys, Kahlua, and heavy cream. It is not blended with ice, doesn’t have coconut, and contrary to popular belief, often only includes chocolate as a garnish.
The best liquor to pair with coffee is the one whose flavor you enjoy, because coffee pairs beautifully with most alcohol. Tequila in coffee and brandy coffee are two of our favorites, especially on a cold day. Coffee also pairs well with liqueurs like Kahlua or Baileys.
To make a vegan Bushwacker, replace the 2% milk with a non-dairy alternative like almond or oat. Or double down on the coconut flavor by using coconut milk. You will also need to switch the Kahlua for a vegan coffee liqueur like Tia Maria and forgo the cream topping.
- Coffee for the People Roasting Co. (2021, October 8). The Perfect Romance: Chocolate And Coffee Are The Winning Combination. Here’s Why. Retrieved from https://cftproastingco.com.au/the-perfect-romance-chocolate-and-coffee-are-the-winning-combination-heres-why/
- Visit Pensacola. (n.d.). The Bushwacker: How It Became Pensacola’s Official Drink and Where To Get It. Retrieved from https://www.visitpensacola.com/blog/the-bushwacker-how-it-became-pensacolas-official-drink-and-where-to-get-it/