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Zombie Cocktail

The Zombie was one of the first drinks to popularize blending a number of different rums in one beverage.

tropical zombie cocktail served with mint garnish

The recipe was a closely guarded secret when it was first developed, meaning that a huge number of imitations were made by people trying to copy the magic of the original. It has since become a globally popular Tiki cocktail.

History of the Zombie Cocktail

This legendary drink was created by Ernest Gannt aka “Donn Beach” in 1934. Cocktail lore tells us that the Zombie was invented to help a hungover client at the original Don the Beachcomber bar in Hollywood, CA get through a business meeting.

The high alcohol content was masked with more palatable fruit juice to try and cover up the customer’s lamentable state. Predictably, it actually made him feel like a zombie, and the meeting did not go well!

Donn used a coded system at the bar so only he and his bartenders knew what went into the drink. The secret recipe was finally decoded by cocktail sleuth Jeff “Beachbum” Berry who spent an entire decade working out how historic cocktails were made. The Zombie found fame at the New York World’s Fair in 1939 when it was featured on the menu of the Hurricane Bar.

How to Make a Zombie Cocktail

It is made traditionally with three different types of rum taken from all around the Caribbean. Not only does this add complexity and depth to the flavour, the powerful amount of alcohol means that the name is well deserved!

tropical zombie cocktail served with mint garnish


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

The Zombie is a classic Tiki cocktail that has been making its victims feel like the Living Dead for over 80 years! It is one of the proud great-grandfather recipes in the lexicon of great alcoholic hangover "cures".


  • 1.5oz Gold Rum
  • 1.5oz Dark Rum
  • 1oz Overproof Rum
  • 0.75oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.5oz falernum syrup
  • 0.5oz grapefruit juice
  • 1tsp grenadine
  • 1tsp Pernod
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters


  1. Put all of the ingredients into a blender.
  2. Add three-quarters of a cup of ice and blend everything together until it is completely smooth.
  3. Pour the drink into a tall glass, without sieving.
  4. Add a straw, ice cubes, and a mint sprig for garnish

Did you make this recipe?

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For a little extra authenticity add a splash of cinnamon-infused sugar syrup, which is thought to have been in “Donn’s Mix”, the top-secret recipe that Donn Beach used to add to his drink mixes.

Written by Paul Kushner

I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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