This holiday season, trade in your glass of eggnog for something a little more Florida-appropriate and kick back with a frosted bushwacker.
The cocktail, often considered a grownup version of a milkshake, is crafted from aged rum, Kahlua, creme de cacao and cream of coconut. The ingredients work together to give the drink a chocolatey, piña colada-like flavor. And thanks to one Sarasota cocktail company, you don't even need to do any mixing.
Bushwacker Spirits was founded in 2019 by childhood friends Michael Smith and Carter Echols. The idea to bottle the beachy bushwacker beverage as a ready-to-drink cocktail came to these two Alabama natives while vacationing in the Sunshine State.
“We were in a little town on the coast and we drove around to three different liquor stores and one grocery store to get all the ingredients,” says Smith. “We pretty much demolished the kitchen and got drunk in the process, but we had a good bushwacker recipe."
That adventure led Smith to identify a void that existed in the liquor industry. There are hundreds—maybe even thousands—of margarita mixes on the market, but not a single pre-mixed bushwacker product. After that realization, the concept for Bushwacker Spirits was born.
“We originally discussed the possibility of making a liquor mixture that bars could easily use, because they typically have to carry several ingredients that they use solely for bushwackers,” says Smith. “It was about a year into our venture when we finalized our recipe. We decided not to just make the liquor mixture and to instead make it all in one. We wanted to find the best cream out there and create something that could be poured straight from the bottle. That ended up being a great decision.”
Bushwacker Spirits went from bottling 110 cases in May 2020 to bottling between 1,500 to 2,000 cases before the year ended. It's now available in liquor and grocery stores across Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and—of course—Florida. The company is planning a nationwide launch in the coming year.
One of Smith’s favorite ways to enjoy a bushwacker during the holiday season is blending it with a steaming mug of hot cocoa.
“For Christmas last year, I came into the office and Kanisha and Carrie [Bushwacker’s graphic artist and office manager, respectively] had come up with this concoction,” says Smith. “They handed me a mug of white hot chocolate mixed with Bush, and, on the rim, they had drizzled melted white chocolate and crushed peppermint. That was very, very good.”
Mixing Bushwacker and cocoa is not the only way you can enjoy a bushwacker this holiday season. Bushwacker Spirits recently shared a list of other holiday cocktail recipes that feature its product:
Bushwacker Spirits is located at 3135 Southgate Circle, Sarasota. For more information and to find where you can purchase a bottle, visit the company's website.