How the Bushwacker Became the South’s Favorite Boozy Summer Treat

Kaitlyn Yarborough

Many places throughout the South are famous for having a signature drink. For instance, the Sazerac hails from the lively streets of New Orleans, the mint julep comes to the races in Louisville, and the rum runner cools you down in Key West. The liquored-up list goes on. Each possessing a unique blend of taste, tradition, and twinkle, these come to be the hallmark of a good time had by locals and visitors alike. Southerners are a social bunch, after all—especially during happy hour. Particularly if they have a Bushwacker in hand. 

Also belonging to the list of the South’s most iconic cocktails, a Bushwacker comes in a slightly different form than its iced-down counterparts. Blended into a boozy milkshake, it’s basically like a chocolate piña colada, minus the pineapple, and it takes major willpower not to slurp down an entire batch faster than you can say Jimmy Buffett. Talk about a brain freeze.

As history goes, the Bushwacker came to us by way of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where it was created in the 1970s and soon brought to the South by the owner of the Sandshaker Bar, a famous beachside bar in Pensacola, Florida. Since then, the frozen rum-filled treat has been synonymous with the powdery sands and bright blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in the Panhandle. To this day, there is even an annual Bushwacker Festival held in Pensacola where the Southern-style Bushwacker cocktail was first blended. 

When ordering your first Bushwacker, one can only hope you’re bellied up to the bars at Sandshaker, Flora-Bama, Moe’s BBQ, or LuLu's, which are all known far and wide to have the best boozy Bushwacker treat to enjoy on a hot day. The recipe is only right if it contains rum, Kahlúa, cream of coconut, créme de cacao, milk, and ice. (Some prefer to use vanilla ice cream instead of milk and ice, if you prefer something super sweet and indulgent.) 

A chocolate drizzle down the glass and cherry on top for good measure, and you’re about to have the sip of a lifetime. The fact of the matter: Southerners find a Bushwacker hard to pass up, no matter the time of day or number of calories.

Mississippi Mudslides

A little bourbon makes these mudslides perfectly rich and flavorful. For a dramatic and delicious effect, use a small kitchen torch to brown the marshmallow on top.

They’re secretly way boozier than you think, fun to serve on a hot summer’s day, and easy enough to make at home. So basically, what’s not to love? 

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