March 18, 2021

What is a bushwacker and how did it become a Gulf Coast staple?

2.2 min read

Alabama’s Gulf Coast beaches have become synonymous with a rich and boozy frozen drink: a bushwacker. This sweet treat is like a milkshake — but with a kick. Recipes for the spiked ice cream cocktail vary, but it usually includes a combination of vanilla ice cream, creme de cacao, light rum, spiced rum, Kahlua, amaretto, and milk. Some variations opt to add coconut cream, and others drizzle chocolate sauce down the sides.

The original bushwacker recipe came from the Sapphire Pub on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands but was brought stateside by Sandshaker Beach Bar in Pensacola Beach, Florida.

Flora-Bama, the famous bar on the Alabama/Florida line, popularized the cocktail with Alabama Gulf Coast visitors and has since become known as the main spot to grab a bushwacker. The owner of the Flora-Bama came up with the recipe after years of being a regular at Sandshaker.


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Flora-Bama’s take on the drink is perfect in its simplicity. Using a classic recipe, this no-frills version is sweet, strong, thick and comes in a plastic cup garnished with only a maraschino cherry. Add a floater of rum to the top, if you dare. But don’t underestimate the strength of a bushwacker — they may be easily drinkable, but they’ll get you, ahem, bushwhacked in no time.

Sipping the ice cream drink on a hot day is a classic Alabama Gulf Coast experience. Beachgoers can order one from the Flora-Bama’s beachfront satellite bar, or you can visit the main bar/restaurant: a massive complex of multiple bars and stages with live music. You’ll also find bushwackers at many other bars and restaurants among the Gulf Coast, as well as in some landlocked Alabama cities.


Here are a few other variations to try:

Gulf Shores/Orange Beach

  • The Hangout: Bushwacker (Malibu Coconut Rum, coffee liqueur, and ice cream)
  • Pink Pony Pub: Malibu Bushwacker (Malibu Rum, dark créme de cocoa, Irish créme, and vanilla créme)
  • Lulu’s: Lulu’s World Famous Bushwacker (vanilla ice cream, coffee liqueur, and Cruzan Coconut Rum)
  • Anchor Bar & Grill: Blonde Bushwacker (vanilla vodka, Frangelico, ice cream)

Other Alabama Options

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