The Zombie Cocktail Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on August 19, 2023

The Zombie is a fun and a quite complex Tiki cocktail. This drink contains a variety of different rums, juices, syrups, and a number of other ingredients.
Zombie cocktail with mint sprig garnish

Created by famous bartender Donn Beach, the Zombie cocktail is one hell of a drink: Ten ingredients, six of which are alcoholic. Beach also added one of his signature ingredients, Donn's Mix. 

The amount of components is intimidating. The fact that Beach kept his recipe secret and occasionally changed it doesn't make things easier, but we want to help you to get this tiki classic right.

Quick Facts Zombie Cocktail

  • Method: shaken
  • Flavor profile: fruity, sweet but boozy
  • How to serve it: over ice
  • Best glassware: highball glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 26% ABV, 45 grams of alcohol per serving

Read on when you want to learn more about Donn Beach's unique ingredients and how he invented the Zombie cocktail.

Zombie cocktail with mint sprig garnish

Zombie Recipe

The Zombie is a crazy rum-based cocktail created by Donn Beach. Based on three different types of Rum, this cocktail will get your groove on.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: falernum, grenadine, lime, pineapple, rum, Rum Cocktail
Servings: 1
Calories: 308kcal
Cost: $4.20


  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Blender


  • 1.5 oz Havana Club 3-year-old Rum
  • 1 oz Overproof pot still Rum
  • 0.75 oz 151 Rum
  • 0.5 oz Falernum
  • 1 bsp Pernod
  • 1 oz Pineapple juice
  • 0.5 oz Lime juice
  • 0.5 oz Donn's Mix
  • 1 bsp Grenadine
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters


  • The Zombie is a blended cocktail. That means, pour all ingredients except the Angostura bitters in your blender with 6 oz of crushed ice.
    1.5 oz Havana Club 3-year-old Rum, 1 oz Overproof pot still Rum, 0.75 oz 151 Rum, 0.5 oz Falernum, 1 bsp Pernod, 1 oz Pineapple juice, 0.5 oz Lime juice, 0.5 oz Donn's Mix, 1 bsp Grenadine
  • Blend shortly (4-6 seconds) at high speed.
  • Pour the drink into your favorite Tiki mug over ice and garnish with a fresh mint sprig.
  • Add two dashes of Angostura bitters and enjoy your Zombie.
    2 dashes Angostura bitters


Serving: 6.25ozCalories: 308kcalCarbohydrates: 27.86gProtein: 0.2gFat: 0.05gSodium: 5.08mgPotassium: 73.32mgSugar: 26.46gVitamin C: 11.5mgCalcium: 8.96mgIron: 0.25mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Ingredients with Recommendations

For our recipe, you need a total of ten components, some of these not exactly what everyone has in their home bar. So, here are our recommendations that help you write your shopping list.

First, the alcoholic

  • White Rum: Here, you can keep it simple. Use Havana Club or Bacardi, or whichever brand is your favorite.
  • Overproof Rum: Overproof is a term for Rums ranging from 100 - 151 proof. Plantation O.F.T.D. is a great budget-friendly option.
  • 151 Rum: One type that pops up in many recipes is 151. Perhaps you guessed it already, the 151 stands for the proof of the spirit. At 75,5% ABV, those rums are way above the standard. 
  • Pernod: Pernod is the anise spirit of choice for our Zombie. It is similar to absinthe. Both have a green color, a strong anise flavor, and a high ABV, but Pernod does not contain wormwood. Yet, technically, you can also use absinthe for this drink. Read more in the post about Pernod vs. Absinthe.
  • Falernum: Falernum is a syrup that can be non-alcoholic or alcoholic (Velvet Falernum). It's a spicier version of orgeat and carries notes of ginger, cloves, lime, almond, and allspice berries. For the Zombie, both versions work - with or without alcohol.
  • Bitters: Here, we keep it basic and stick to the traditional Angostura Aromatic Bitters. 

Note: In general, the types of rum vary from recipe to recipe. It could be overproof, spiced, Jamaican and Puerto Rican Rum, white Cuban Rum, and the list goes on... The above is our favorite combination.

Now, to the non-alcoholic elements

  • Fresh Lime & Pineapple Juice: Both juices are evergreens in tropical cocktails. They perform some real magic when you squeeze them from fresh and ripe fruit. Don't use packed juice. They are a sure way to mess up what could have been a brilliant drink.
  • Grenadine: Grenadine is a sweet, bright red syrup made from pomegranate and is often frowned upon in the world of mixology for its artificial taste. So to get a more natural flavor, you can consider making a DIY grenadine at home.
  • Donn's Mix: Beach's secret ingredient, which sounds pretty mysterious but actually can be made quite easily. It's a syrup flavored with grapefruit and cinnamon. You can find our instructions below.
Zombie Cocktails

The Original Zombie Recipe by Donn Beach

Donn Beach made a habit of keeping the recipes for his cocktails a secret. He sometimes even used cryptic references for some ingredients, so only he knew what exactly went into his shaker. 

Luckily, there are curious and persistent people like Jeff Beachbum Berry. He published a book called Sippin' Safari, containing many recipes for Tiki cocktails. 

Berry did quite some research for this, interviewing countless bartenders from Don the Beachcomber and many other famous Tiki places. 

As a result, his gem of a book also shows the development of the Zombie cocktail over time as it contains three different recipes created between 1934 and 1956.

The original recipe contained the following: three different kinds of rum, lime juice, Angostura bitters, Falernum, Pernod, grenadine, and -of course- Donn's Mix. Our recipe also calls for the addition of pineapple juice.


Often it happens that somebody doesn't have all the necessary ingredients at hand, this drink has countless riffs and variations. 

Amongst those are versions of bartending legends like Trader Vic, creator of the Mai Tai, and Jeff Beachbum Berry. 

Trader Vic's Zombie Recipe calls for the following:

  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz Orange Juice
  • 0.5 oz Grenadine
  • 1 oz Orange Curacao 
  • 1 oz Jamaican Rum
  • 2 oz Puerto Rican Rum
  • 0.5oz 151 Proof Demerara Rum
  • 1 dash Pernod

And for Zombie Cocktail made like Beachbum Berry, you need:

  • 0.75 oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz ounce falernum, 
  • 1.5 oz ounces Puerto Rican Rum 
  • 1.5 oz dark Jamaican Rum 
  • 1 oz 151° Overproof rumDemerara Rum
  • 1 tsp grenadine
  • 6 drops Pernod
  • a dash of Angostura bitters
  • 0.5 oz Donn’s mix

You can also find recipes using absinthe instead of Pernod, different rums, grapefruit juice, non-alcoholic falernum, etc., etc. What all have in common is that these are very, very boozy concoctions.

The Zombie Cocktail

How Much Alcohol Is In a Zombie Cocktail?

As you can see in our quick facts above, our Zombie recipe has an alcohol content of about 26%. The exact number depends on your choice of products, of course. That is high, but not nearly as much as you get in many vintage drinks. Here the ABV often surpasses 30%.

However, these vintage cocktails come in small doses so that your alcohol intake stays firmly below 30 grams. Not so for a Zombie. That is a long drink with a crazy 45 grams of pure alcohol per serving. For comparison, a Long Island Iced Tea has 24 grams.

Thus, this cocktail will very quickly make you drunk. We suggest you drink it slowly and responsibly.

History of the Zombie Cocktail

Donn Beach invented the Zombie cocktail in the 1930s at his legendary bar - Don the Beachcomber. Beach served many rum-based drinks and kicked off what we know now as modern Tiki cocktail culture.

Apparently, Beach created this complex concoction with the purpose of curing a hangover, just like others did with the Corpse Reviver and the Suffering Bastard

The story goes that Donn Beach mixed it for a hungover customer helping him to get through an important business meeting. 

Obviously, Beach overdid it with the alcohol levels because his customer allegedly pointed out that the drink was so strong that he somehow felt like a Zombie. But at least it seems he managed to get through the meeting, even though probably not as well as he hoped.

Beach, too, was aware of how potent his creation was. Therefore, he limited the number of the cocktail, now called Zombie, to two per customer per day in his bar. He explained that one more would make you "like the walking dead."

What's also worth mentioning is that he used his legendary secret formula - the so-called Donn's Mix - to enrich the flavors of the Zombie cocktail. So let's look a little closer at the ingredients.

How to make Donn's Mix

Donn's Mix is a syrup made with cinnamon and grapefruit juice that you can easily make at home. All you have to do is make a cinnamon-flavored simple syrup and then mix it with grapefruit juice:

Step 1: Use one cup of sugar, one cup of water, and three cinnamon sticks. Bring everything to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Then remove from heat and let the syrup cool down.

Step 2: Now, you need to mix your cinnamon syrup with fresh grapefruit juice. For this, use one part syrup and two parts grapefruit juice. 

Et voila, you just created Donn's Mix.

More Favorite Tiki Recipes

If you are looking for more crazy, tropical cocktails to serve for your next summer party or tiki fete, we recommend these:

To view the entire list, head to our overview of favorite Tiki Cocktails.

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2 comments on “The Zombie Cocktail Recipe”

  1. Grenadine is made pomegranate (the French word for pomegranate is Grenadine) not cranberry. You can make your own with 2 cups sugar and 1 cup pomegranate juice

    1. Hi Jeff, thanks a lot for pointing that out. Don’t know how cranberry ended up in here, we must have had a short blackout 😅

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