What’s a Bushwacker, and Where to Find the Best Ones in Nashville

This party drink is part milkshake, part cocktail
Bushwacker

Heidi Carter

It may look like a milkshake, but it packs a wallop.

Move out of the way, artisan craft cocktail makers, it's time to talk novelty party drinks: specifically, the Bushwacker.  And just what is a Bushwacker, you ask?  Well pull up a chair and let's get your learn on. A Bushwacker is basically an adult version of a Frosty from Wendy’s.  This boozy milkshake is filled with many types of liquor, but is usually rum based. Its origins are Caribbean-based and then its popularity spread along the Gulf Coast of the United States, mostly in touristy beach shack-style locales.

Somewhere along the way, Bushwackers have become a party drinking staple in Nashville. Whereas 10 years ago there was one, maybe two, locales featuring this decadent drink. Now, they're becoming as ubiquitous as a margarita and have lapped daiquiris twice-over. Seriously, who drinks daiquiris anymore? Bushwackers are so common these days in Nashvegas, restaurants have started putting their own unique "spins" to separate their Bushwacker from a "common" Bushwacker. 

Asking about the ingredients is a waste of time, as you’re never going to get a straight answer. Apparently there's still "craft" in novelty spring break drinking. Heads up, milk or ice cream is likely to be included in the recipe. Common tweaks you can make to your bushwacker include dropping a shot on top called a "floater." These floaters can be anything ranging from additional alcohol for more zip in your sip, or flavor shots like coffee or peppermint for the holidays. Pumpkin spice Bushwackers surely are on the way, and likely a sign of the impending apocalypse. Also, being a whiskey town means ordering it the “Nashville way” will likely get you a whiskey replacement for the traditional rum.

For many, Bushwackers are a planned beverage you know in advance you are going to order so it’s important to choose wisely!  To help you make those plans, I’m giving you my 5 best places that are guaranteed to serve you a great Bushwacker and good time, every time (provided the brain freeze doesn't kill you):

ReBar, 1919 Division Street
As a special upcoming treat, keep an eye out for their green St. Patty’s Day Bushwackers in March!  For the bargain hunters, they do not offer happy hour food or Bushwackers, however, on Mondays they offer $1.50 tacos and overall everything is reasonably priced! Rebar's large (16 oz.) Bushwacker checks in at $7.50, with a small (8 oz.) for $4.00.

Tenn Sixteen Food & Drink Co. and 3 Crow Bar, Five Points, East Nashville
These two East Nashville five points joints have the same owners and pretty much the same Bushwackers, so I'm pairing them together. The Happy hours are Monday-Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. which is, according to my simple math skills, eight full hours of happy.  And while they don't have happy hour food, all drinks are a dollar off at the bar including Bushwackers and Halfwackers! 

Edley’s Bar-B-Que, 2706 12th Ave S, 12 South
Edley's offers some of the finest Q in all of Nashville, but it's not common for this 12 South neighborhood haunt to attract a big "bar crowd" beyond the eaters. Their summer premium patio and creative Bushwackers aim to change that. The appeal of Edley's goes into all of their choices, including: strawberry, banana, peanut butter, black cherry, coconut, pumpkin pie, mint, and salted caramel.  From St. Patty’s green to Independence Day red, white and blue, keep an eye out for all their seasonal Bushwackers!  If they have one, I'd stay away from the Groundhog Day Bushwacker, but that's just me. On Wednesdays, Bushwackers are $5 all day until 10 p.m.

Broadway Brewhouse, 1900 Broadway Blvd, Midtown
Word on the street is Brewhouse Midtown brought the Bushwacker to Nashville. It's the original. The innovator. From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays their happy hour consists of $1 off everything at the bar and a late-night menu on Mondays.

Two Bits, 1520 Demonbreun Street
If you haven't been yet, in addition to a kickin' Bushwacker, Two Bits also has free games...pretee neat! It's the fun vibe and games atmosphere that goes perfect with a party drink like the Bushwacker. They have frozen drink specials on Sundays from 3 p.m. to close.

Honorable Mention
Even though it currently doesn't have a permanent home, I feel compelled to highlight the original vegan Bushwacker created by chef Jess Rice, former co-owner and original chef of Avo. Her recipe? Selva Rey, cacao rum, coconut, Kahlua, almond, and raw chocolate.  Chef Rice is serving her vegan Bushwackers exclusively at the pop-up dinners she hosts in and around Nashville.  Find out more about Jess Rice and her next pop up dinner on her Facebook page.

Whether you’re a local or just visiting, I recommend getting Bushwacked at least once. Sure, it's not a drink you can do all the time, unless you're living the Gronk life I suppose. But everything has its time and place, including novelty, frozen, liquor-laden Frostys. That said, in the words of Carrie Underwood, “I don’t drink, but sometimes I need a stiff drank!”  And sometimes that drank comes with a little brain freeze.