Zombie (cocktail)

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Type Mixed drink
Primary alcohol by volume
Served On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnish


Standard drinkware
Zombie Glass.svg
Zombie glass
Commonly used ingredients
Preparation Mix ingredients other than the 151 in a shaker with ice. Pour into glass and top with the high-proof rum.
Notes Because of the high proof rum, this cocktail could be lit if desired.
Reference [1]

The Zombie, is a cocktail made of fruit juices, liqueurs, and various rums. It first appeared in late 1934, invented by Donn Beach (formerly Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gannt) of Hollywood's Don the Beachcomber restaurant.[1] It was popularized soon afterwards at the 1939 New York World's Fair.


Legend has it that Donn Beach originally concocted the Zombie to help a hung-over customer get through a business meeting.[2] The customer returned several days later to complain that he had been turned into a zombie for his entire trip. Its smooth, fruity taste works to conceal its extremely high alcoholic content. Don the Beachcomber restaurants limit their customers to two Zombies apiece.[3]

According to the original recipe, the Zombie cocktail included three different kinds of rum, lime juice, falernum, Angostura bitters, Pernod, grenadine, and "Don's Mix", a combination of cinnamon syrup and grapefruit juice.[4]

Beach was very cautious with the recipes of his original cocktails. His instructions for his bartenders contained coded references to ingredients, the contents of which were only known to him. Beach's original recipes for the Zombie and other Tiki drinks have been published in Sippin' Safari by Jeff "Beachbum" Berry. Berry researched the origins of many Tiki cocktails, interviewing bartenders from Don the Beachcomber's and other original Tiki places and digging up other original sources. Mostly notably, Sippin' Safari details Beach's development of the Zombie with three different recipes dating from 1934 to 1956.

Due to the popularity of the cocktail during the Tiki craze and the fact that Beach both kept his recipe secret and occasionally altered it, today there are many variations of the Zombie made at many restaurants and bars, some showing few similarities to the original cocktail.

The Zombie was occasionally served heated (a drink more commonly known today as the I.B.A. Hot Zombie), as outlined by the Catering Industry Employee (CIE) journal: "Juice of 1 lime, unsweetened pineapple juice, bitters, 1 ounce heavily bodied rum, 2 ounces of Gold Label rum, 1 ounce of White Label rum, 1 ounce of apricot-flavored brandy, 1 ounce of papaya juice"[5]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly advised his audience during his An Audience With... show to try the Zombie, citing that it's "in an extraordinary concept; [the consumer gets] drunk from the bottom-up".
  • The Zombie cocktail also appears as one of many of the namechecks found in Steely Dan songs, appearing in the song "Haitian Divorce" on the album The Royal Scam.
  • In 1940, pianist Fats Waller recorded a novelty song called "Abercrombie Had a Zombie" about the effects of the cocktail on a previously law-abiding citizen who has a few zombies and becomes a public menace. The song also mentions Aquacade and other features of the 1939 New York World's Fair where the drink was popularized.
  • In the 1942 movie, "So's Your Aunt Emma!", Emma Bates (ZaSu Pitts) is offered a drink at a bar and asks what a "Zombie" is. Her escort, newspaper man Terry Conners, says, "That's not for you," and orders her a "Horse's Neck."
  • In the 1951 movie, "Lullaby of Broadway", Adolph Hubble (S.Z. Sakall) is having dinner with Melinda Howard (Doris Day). Being in a celebratory mood, instead of his "usual beer", as suggested by the waiter, Adolf orders a double Zombie - followed by several more.
  • In the "Is It Magic or Imagination?" episode of Bewitched, Darrin orders a Zombie for Samantha. When she makes them leave before receiving the drink, Darrin says "if you didn't want the zombie I would have drank it" so she conjures one for him.
  • The drink is mentioned by the doctor in the 1943 film I Walked With a Zombie as the final example of what the definition of a zombie might entail. Frances Dee's character responds, "I tried one once, but there wasn't anything dead about it."
  • In the "Catch a Falling Star" episode of Quantum Leap (set on May 21, 1979, aired in 1990), a number of the characters order Zombies.
  • The Zombie appears in The Fiery Furnaces' album Rehearsing My Choir; the narrator states 'it just bombed me', during "A Candymaker’s Knife in my Handbag"
  • The Zombie is mentioned by rapper Common in the track "8 Minutes to Sunrise" off his "Sensibility" album (02:00).
  • In the Gilligan's Island episode "Voodoo" Gilligan informs Mrs. Howell the Professor has been turned into a zombie by a witchdoctor. She asks Thurston what a zombie is; he starts giving her the recipe for the cocktail, but wonders why she asked. She explains the Professor has been turned into one. Mrs. Howell suggests they go help him, and Thurston adds, "Bring a couple of tall glasses"!
  • In the M*A*S*H episode "The Consultant," Trapper orders a zombie and tells the bartender to "keep making them until I turn into one."
  • Included in a set of Munchkin Zombies!, a treasure card contains the recipe for this drink
  • In the 1981 film Modern Problems, the main characters are served a tray of Zombies during a weekend retreat at the beach.
  • In the "Nowhere to turn" episode of Matlock Conrad McMasters is offered a job as a bartender after meeting the bar owner's challenge to fix him "a Zombie, a perfect Rob Roy, and a Suffering Bastard".[6]
  • In the 2014 film Inherent Vice the characters order two Tequila Zombies.
  • In the skit entitled "Scandalous Weekend" in season two of the sketch comedy show Kids in the Hall the recurring character Cathy Strupp, played by Scott Thompson, orders a Triple Zombie in a bar called the Love Boat Disco.


  1. ^ "A Zombie Cocktail Recipe - Great Cocktails (UK)". Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  2. ^ Berry, Jeff (2007). Beachbum Berry's sippin' safari : in search of the great "lost" tropical drink recipes...and the people behind them (2. printing ed.). San Jose, Calif.: SLG. p. 103. ISBN 978-1593620677. 
  3. ^ "Drinking Menu". Don The Beachcomber. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  4. ^ Jeff Berry (2007). Sippin’ Safari. SLG Publishing. p. 121. 
  5. ^ CIE: Volumes 50-51 by Hotel & Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union, Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union, Hotel and Restaurant Employees' International Alliance and Bartenders' International League of America in 1941
  6. ^ Hargrove, Dean; Collins, Anne; Steiger, Joel (25 September 1990). "Nowhere to turn". Matlock. NBC. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 

External links[edit]