By Liesel Schmidt
The sun, the sand, the sparkling water glittering like jewels in a treasure chest…it all calls for something cool and delicious…like a cocktail. Or a milkshake.
Such is the wonderful mash-up of the Bushwacker, and nowhere on the planet will you find a more fabulous and tasty specimen than the Bushwackers blended up by the skilled shake-makers behind the bar at the Sandshaker Lounge on Pensacola Beach.
This creamy concoction is a work of sheer genius, its unique blend of Kahlua, rum, chocolate, and cream directly inspired by a trip that The Sandshaker’s original head sandman took to the Virgin Islands in 1975. And while this thick drink is a far cry from being virgin, there’s a certain island flare to the whole thing that makes it ideal for Pensacola Beach; and for the past 40-odd years, adoring fans have been lining up at the bar to keep The Shaker shaking up their specialty.
The building itself is a piece of local history, originally having been the hotel lobby bar for the Mai Kai Motel, and the entrance is right where guests of days gone by once checked-in for their stay at the beach. When the motel closed in the early 90’s, it could easily have been lost to the tides of change, but patrons of The Sandshaker kept business bustling right on up until Hurricane Ivan mercilessly swept through in 2005.
The extent of the hurricane damage necessitated closing, but rather than letting it stay down for the count, loyal locals Sonny and Beverly Campbell decided to rescue and resuscitate the bar and add a few changes that would really make the place a shake shack worthy of note. “They wanted to keep the same local-bar feel that was so iconic to the bar, but change it just enough that it would draw new people and show why the place is so special,” says Sonny’s son Joe, who serves as the point man for Sandshaker’s marketing. “The local crowd is what has always given the Sandshaker its flavor, and it’s like a family that just keeps growing because new faces that come in become a part of that and get to share in the good times and the memories that are always being created here,” he goes on.
And it would seem those good times are certainly shaking the scene, as people of all walks of life rub elbows here as they slake their thirst and listen to one of the bands showing off their musical talents up on stage. By making the entertainment schedule a true feature, the Campbells ensured that, even in the “off-season,” things never slowed to a crawl as they so often do for beachside businesses. “When we added live music, it became such a successful draw that we actually had to build a dedicated band-room,” Joe says. “We’ve always prided ourselves on showcasing great local talent, and people come knowing that they’re going to get to listen to some great music, drink a great drink, meet great people, and enjoy a great view.”
“We have a saying here that you never know who you’ll see at the Shaker, and it’s so true. You can be sitting next to a fisherman, a banker, or a millionaire, and no one would be any different than the next. Everyone here comes for the same reason—to have fun!”
That’s certainly a recipe for greatness—no matter how you shake it.
The Sandshaker is located at 731 Pensacola Beach Boulevard, Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561. Open daily from 10:00 a.m.- 3:00 a.m. For more information, call (850) 932-2211 or visit www.sandshaker.com.
2 oz. Kahlua or Kamora
2 oz. rum
2 oz. crème de cacao
1 oz. of cream of coconut
2 oz. milk
1 1/2 cup ice
Pour all ingredients except rum into a blender and blend to preferred consistency. Pour rum into a chilled glass, then fill with frozen mixture!
Recipe courtesy of The Sandshaker