The Zombie is a drink that packs a punch. Donn Beach created this famous tropical rum cocktail in the 1930s and it has since become a staple in the Tiki cocktail world. The Zombie is a complex cocktail that features three different rums, fresh lime juice, falernum, and grapefruit juice, among other ingredients.
The Zombie cocktail is not for the faint of heart. It’s a behemoth of a drink that is perfect for those who enjoy a strong, boozy cocktail. The combination of three different rums, including Jamaican, Puerto Rican, and 151-proof, along with Don’s mix, a cinnamon-flavored simple syrup mixed with fresh grapefruit juice, makes for a potent concoction. The Zombie is a great drink to serve at a party or to enjoy on a warm summer day.
The Zombie cocktail has been around since the 1930s and was invented by Donn Beach at his Hollywood Don the Beachcomber restaurant. It is said that he created the drink for a hungover customer who needed help to get through a business meeting. The drink was originally called the “Zombie Punch” and was so potent that Beach limited each customer to only two per visit.
The Zombie cocktail became very popular on the East coast after it was introduced at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The drink’s popularity grew rapidly and it soon became a staple of tiki culture. Don the Beachcomber’s and Trader Vic’s were two of the most famous tiki bars that served the Zombie cocktail.
Donn Beach was a pioneer of tiki culture and was known for his exotic drinks and elaborate garnishes. He created his own signature mix called “Donn’s Mix” which was a blend of grapefruit juice and cinnamon syrup. This mix was used in many of his cocktails, including the Zombie.
Today, the Zombie cocktail remains a popular drink among cocktail enthusiasts and tiki culture fans. Jeff Berry, also known as Beachbum Berry, is a historian of tiki culture and has written extensively about the Zombie cocktail and its history. He has even created his own version of the drink, which he calls the “Zombie Punch.”
How to Make It
Making a Zombie cocktail is easy and fun. Here is a simple recipe that you can follow to make your own Zombie cocktail at home.
- 1 1/2 oz. dark rum
- 1 1/2 oz gold rum
- 1 1/2 oz. 151-proof rum
- 3/4 oz. lime juice
- 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz Falernum
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 teaspoon Pernod
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add all the ingredients.
- Shake well.
- Strain the mixture into a highball glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with a cherry and a slice of orange.
The Zombie is typically served in a Zombie cocktail glass and garnished with a cherry and an orange slice, and sometimes mint.
The Zombie Cocktail glass is a tall, narrow glass that is designed to hold the Zombie cocktail. It typically has a capacity of around 12 ounces and is often decorated with Tiki-style designs. The glass is designed to showcase the colorful, fruity cocktail and to allow for easy sipping.
The Zombie cocktail is a versatile drink that lends itself well to variations. Bartenders have been experimenting with different ingredients and ratios for decades, resulting in a wide range of Zombie cocktail variations. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Voodoo Zombie Cocktail
This variation of the Zombie cocktail is made with a blend of light and dark rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, cinnamon syrup, falernum, Pernod, and grenadine. It’s a spicier version of the original Zombie cocktail, with a hint of clove and cinnamon.
Blue Zombie Cocktail
This variation of the Zombie cocktail is made with light rum, dark rum, 151 rum, blue curaçao, lime juice, pineapple juice, and grenadine. It’s a sweeter version of the original Zombie cocktail, with a bright blue color.
Flaming Zombie Cocktail
This variation of the Zombie cocktail is made with white rum, gold rum, 151 rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, cinnamon syrup, falernum, and Pernod. It’s served in a tall glass with a flaming passion fruit garnish, making for a dramatic presentation.
Walking Dead Zombie Cocktail
This variation of the Zombie cocktail is made with light rum, dark rum, 151 rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, and grenadine. It’s a fruity and refreshing version of the original Zombie cocktail, perfect for sipping on a hot summer day.
Tropical Zombie Cocktail
This variation of the Zombie cocktail is made with white rum, gold rum, 151 rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, passion fruit syrup, and grenadine. It’s a tropical version of the original Zombie cocktail, with a sweet and tangy flavor.
When making a Zombie cocktail variation, it’s important to keep the alcohol content in mind. Most Zombie cocktails are strong, with an ABV of around 40%. If you’re looking for a milder version, try using less rum or adding more fruit juices.
Garnishes are also an important part of the Zombie cocktail experience. A classic Zombie cocktail is typically garnished with a mint sprig and a cherry, but feel free to get creative. Pineapple slices, orange slices, and cinnamon sticks all make great garnishes for a Zombie cocktail.