Friday, January 26, 2018



Today's #TikiTheSnowAway cocktail is another classic, perhaps second only to the Mai Tai in popularity: the Zombie. I have to say, this cocktail had somewhat negative connotations in my head before I saw the recipe. The name immediately conjured images of sugary cocktails laced with blue curaƧao. And for decades, if you ordered a Zombie at a bar, this is probably what you'd get. As I mentioned in my brief history of Tiki, Donn Beach kept his recipes carefully secret, to the point of using unmarked bottles and mysterious numbered mixtures simply labeled "Spices" or "Dashes." This, combined with the ubiquity of cheap, artificial mixtures in the second half of the 20th century, meant that any Zombie you would order at a Tiki bar would likely be a far cry from Donn's original.

Thankfully, Jeff "Beachbum" Berry is here to save the day again. He managed to find the original recipe, eventually piecing together that "Spices #4" referred to cinnamon syrup. The true Zombie was brought back from the dead, as it were.


If you look at the recipe below, you'll see that it contains quite a lot of rum. If you thought the Navy Grog was strong, you should not go anywhere near a  Zombie. I swear I'm not trying to pick the most alcoholic Tiki recipes - these are the classics! But the Zombie is so strong that the menu at Don the Beachcomber informed patrons that there was a two-per-person limit, "for your own safety." As you can imagine, this just made the drink even more popular.

And its popularity is well-deserved. It's surprisingly good considering it's mostly rum. Or maybe that shouldn't be a surprise. The little bit of grapefruit juice does quite a lot, and the two dashes of Herbstura (Don's 1:1 mixture of Herbsaint and Angostura bitters) really adds some nice spice and herbal notes and brings it all together. It's a shockingly sophisticated cocktail.

But you probably should limit yourself to two, just in case.

History: Donn Beach invented the Zombie at Don the Beachcomber in 1934. The popular story is that a hungover businessman asked Donn to make him something to get him through a meeting, and Donn hastily mixed something up. Afterwards, the fellow told Donn that the drink made him feel like a zombie. However, the menu at Don the Beachcomber claimed, much to the contrary, that the cocktail was the result of months of careful experimentation on Donn's part.



1 1/2 oz. blended aged rum*
1 1/2 oz. column still aged rum*
1 oz. black blended overproof rum*
1/2 oz. Velvet Falernum
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. grapefruit juice
1/4 oz. cinnamon syrup**
1 tsp. grenadine
1 dash Herbsaint
1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin with 12 oz. of crushed ice and a few large "agitator" cubes. Shake well or flash blend and open pour into a Zombie or Collins glass. Garnish with a mint sprig; I added a cinnamon stick and some appropriate sineage.

*I recommend checking out Smuggler's Cove for more info on how these rums differ and what brands to buy. I personally don't have a column still aged rum or a black blended overproof rum; I used Appleton Estate Signature Blend (actually a blended column still/pot still rum) and Gosling's Black Seal (which is not overproof). Plantation 5-Year was my blended aged rum. If you don't have a giant rum collection, use what you have - I think you'll still enjoy the cocktail quite a bit!

**For cinnamon syrup, combine 1/2 cup water and 2 cinnamon sticks in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add 1 cup sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat and let sit for 12 hours. Then strain out the cinnamon sticks.

Recipe from Don the Beachcomber, adapted by Smuggler's Cove.

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