The Bushwacker: The Boozy Milkshake of the Gulf Coast named after a Dog

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If you go to the Gulf Coast, and you like to drink, you will be introduced to the local cocktail called the Buschwacker.   Each bar has a version and it’s popular from Pensicola to the end of Gulf Shores Alabama in Fort Morgan.    It’s even made it north to Mobile, Alabama, where it stands tall next to Mobile’s other creamy boozy cocktail popular during their Mardi Gras – the Chrissy.    I was first introduced to the cocktail at the Tin Top Restaurant in Bon Secour, Alabama, by my drinking buddy, Todd.   I also  tasted another version at the Shrimp Basket, and then Lulu’s in Gulf Shores.

It’s really more of a boozy milkshake than a cocktail, but it’s great, refreshing and has an interesting history that started in the U.S. Virgin Islands.     It’s similar to a mud slide, but also described as a chocolatey pina colada.  The drink was originally invented in 1975 by bartender Angie Conigliaro, cousin to Tony of the Boston Red Sox and Tom Brokamp, manager of the Ship’s Store, Sapphire Pub at Sapphire Village in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.   The original recipe called for vodka, kahlua, dark crème de cacao, coco lopez (cream of coconut), and a splash of triple sec and milk, spun in a blender and topped with a grating of fresh nutmeg.    It was named after a visiting guest’s dog, Bushwack, an Afghan Hound, whose owners were flight attendants, who always brought their dog with them to the bar.

The drink was brought back stateside by Linda Murphy, owner of the Sandshaker Beach Bar in Pensicola, Florida.   She mixed it up a bit, replacing vodka with dark rum, and swirling the glass with chocolate syrup, and topping it with whipped cream and a cherry. You can also get it with a floater of dark rum on top for a more alcoholic punch.   Sometimes tropical fruit is added.

It’s so popular in Pensicola that there is an annual Bushwacker Festival in August at Quietwater Beach to celebrate the drink and its status.   After the 2010 BP Oil Spill, President Barack Obama was photographed drinking a bushwacker in Orange Beach, Alabama.    I would like to see the Pirate’s Cove on Kellogg serve this up next summer or maybe at Buzzed Bull Creamery in Over-the-Rhine.

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