Zombie cocktail with mint sprig garnish

Zombie

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 14, 2022 
The Zombie is a fun and very complex Tiki cocktail. This drink is far from being minimalistic as it contains a variety of Rums, juices, and a respectable number of other ingredients.

Created by famous bartender Donn Beach, the Zombie cocktail is one hell of a drink. Three different types of Rums, fruit juices, cocktail bitters, falernum, and the list goes on. The amount of ingredients is almost intimidating. The fact that Beach kept his recipe secret and occasionally changed it doesn't make things any easier. And because it is hard to have all the right ingredients at hand anyway, 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.

Beach also added one of his signature ingredients to the drink, Donn's Mix. Read on if you want to learn more about his special weapon and how he invented the Zombie cocktail.

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 often used his secret formula - the so-called Donn's Mix - to enhance flavors. 

The Zombie cocktail, however, has its own special story. Apparently, this complex cocktail got created with the intention to cure a hangover, just like the Corpse Reviver. The legend says that Donn Beach mixed it for a hungover customer helping him to get through an important business meeting. Maybe Beach overdid it with the alcohol levels because his customer pointed out that the drink was that strong he somehow felt like a Zombie. But at least it seems he managed to get through the meeting.

Beach knew how potent his creation was. Therefore, he limited the number of Zombies served per customer to two per day in his bar. He explained, one more would make you "like the walking dead."

All ingredients you need to make a Zombie cocktail

Donn Beach kept the recipe 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 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. This 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. The type of Rums used vary from recipe to recipe. It could be overproof Rums, spiced Rums, Jamaican and Puerto Rican Rum, white Cuban Rum, and so on.

One type that pops up in many recipes is 151 Rum. And perhaps you guessed it already, the 151 stands for the proof of the spirit. With 75,5 % ABV, those Rums are way above the usual 40 - 45%. Overproof is a term for Rums ranging from 100 - 151 proof. So as per definition, this one is a seriously overproof Rum, right at the top of the scale.

How to make Donn's Mix

As mentioned before, Donn's Mix is an ingredient Donn Beach commonly included in his cocktail creations. Eventually, someone uncovered that Donn's Mix is a delicious mix of cinnamon and grapefruit juice. And the best part is, you can easily make this at home. All you have to make is a cinnamon-flavored simple syrup and then mix it with grapefruit juice.

So let's start with the cinnamon-simple syrup. 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.

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. This invaluable ingredient should be used up within 2-3 weeks.

Zombie cocktail with mint sprig garnish

Zombie

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: rum, Rum Cocktail
Servings: 1
Calories: 308kcal
Cost: $4.20

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Havana Club 3-year-old Rum
  • 1 oz Overproof pot still Rum
  • 0.75 oz 151 Rum
  • 0.5 oz Falernum
  • 1/8 bsp Pernod
  • 1 oz Pineapple juice
  • 0.5 oz Lime juice
  • 0.5 oz Donn's Mix
  • 1 bsp Grenadine
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Instructions

  • 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, 1/8 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

Nutrition

Serving: 6.25oz | Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 80.86g | Protein: 0.7g | Fat: 0.15g | Sodium: 15.08mg | Potassium: 193.32mg | Sugar: 72.46g | Vitamin C: 31.5mg | Calcium: 23.96mg | Iron: 0.79mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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