Zombie (cocktail)

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TypeMixed drink
Primary alcohol by volume
ServedOn the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnishmint sprig
Standard drinkwareTiki Mug
  • 1 1/2 oz Puerto Rican golden rum
  • 1 1/2 oz Jamaican rum
  • 1 oz demerara 151 rum
  • 1/2 oz Donn's Mix (2:1 mix of grapefruit juice & cinnamon syrup)
  • 1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/4 oz grenadine
  • 2 dashes absinthe
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
PreparationMix ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into tiki mug filled with crushed ice.
NotesBecause 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 of Hollywood's Don the Beachcomber restaurant.[1][2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

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"[6]


  1. ^ "A Zombie Cocktail Recipe - Great Cocktails (UK)". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  2. ^ "Zombie Recipe". beachbumberry.com. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Drinking Menu". Don The Beachcomber. Retrieved 2011-06-02.
  5. ^ Jeff Berry (2007). Sippin’ Safari. SLG Publishing. p. 121.
  6. ^ 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

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