Zombie Cocktail

Zombie Cocktail

The Zombie Cocktail is a tiki cocktail classic, known for its potent blend of rums and tropical juices. It was created in the late 1930s by Donn Beach, also known as Don the Beachcomber. The cocktail was reportedly named after a customer who consumed three of them and later remarked that they had turned him into a zombie. Due to its strength, many bars limit customers to only two Zombies in one sitting.


  • 30 ml (1 oz) white rum
  • 30 ml (1 oz) golden rum
  • 30 ml (1 oz) dark rum
  • 15 ml (0.5 oz) apricot brandy
  • 15 ml (0.5 oz) lime juice
  • 30 ml (1 oz) pineapple juice
  • 30 ml (1 oz) papaya juice (or orange juice if unavailable)
  • 15 ml (0.5 oz) grenadine
  • 1 dash of Angostura bitters
  • Crushed ice
  • Pineapple slice and maraschino cherry for garnish


  1. Mixing: In a cocktail shaker, combine all the rums, apricot brandy, lime juice, pineapple juice, papaya (or orange) juice, grenadine, and bitters.
  2. Shaking: Fill the shaker with crushed ice and shake vigorously for about 15-20 seconds. This ensures a thorough mix and a chilling effect.
  3. Serving: Pour the mixture, unstrained, into a tall glass or tiki mug, allowing the crushed ice to flow into the glass as well.
  4. Garnishing: Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a maraschino cherry. For an added touch, you can also add a sprig of mint.
Expert Bartender Tips Zombie Cocktail

Expert Bartender Tips:

  • The Zombie’s strength comes from its blend of rums. For an even more potent kick, some bartenders add a float of 151-proof rum on top.
  • Freshly squeezed juices are always preferable for a brighter and more authentic flavor.
  • For a smoky twist, you can add a dash of mezcal to the mix.
  • The Zombie is a versatile cocktail, and many variations exist. Feel free to experiment with different fruit juices and rums to find your perfect blend.

The Zombie is a celebration of tropical flavors and the spirit of tiki culture. For those looking to capture this essence at their events, they often rent a bartender for a party in Miami to ensure this iconic drink is crafted to perfection. It’s a drink that promises a good time, but always remember to enjoy it responsibly. Cheers!

Step-by-Step Guide to Mixing the Perfect Zombie

The Zombie is a symphony of flavors, and crafting it requires precision and attention to detail:

  1. Ingredient Selection: Begin by sourcing high-quality rums. The combination of light and dark rums offers a nuanced base. For an authentic touch, consider adding a splash of 151-proof rum, but use it sparingly due to its potency.
  2. Blending: In a blender, combine the rums, apricot brandy, lime juice, pineapple juice, papaya juice, grenadine, and a dash of Angostura bitters. The blending process not only mixes the ingredients but also introduces aeration, enhancing the cocktail’s texture.
  3. Ice Matters: Add crushed ice to the blender. The ice not only chills the drink but also contributes to its velvety consistency. Blend until the mixture achieves a smooth, almost slushy texture.
  4. Taste and Adjust: Before serving, taste the concoction. Depending on your preference, you might want to add a touch more fruit juice for sweetness or a dash more bitters for complexity.
Step by Step Guide to Mixing the Perfect Zombie

Essential Components for the Authentic Zombie Experience

  • Rums: The heart of the Zombie. Each type of rum introduces distinct notes. Light rums are crisp and clean, dark rums offer caramel and molasses undertones, and 151-proof rum brings a fiery kick.
  • Tropical Juices: These juices transport the drinker to an island paradise. Freshly squeezed is best, offering vibrant, unadulterated flavors. Pineapple provides tang, while papaya adds a creamy, tropical sweetness.
  • Sweeteners and Modifiers: Apricot brandy introduces a stone fruit depth, while grenadine, with its rich pomegranate or cherry notes, adds color and sweetness. Bitters, though used sparingly, are essential for rounding out the flavors.

Glassware and Presentation: Serving the Zombie with Panache

Presentation is paramount:

  • Tiki Glass: These intricately designed glasses, often adorned with Polynesian motifs, enhance the tropical experience. Their shapes and designs vary, from fierce tiki gods to elegant Polynesian patterns.
  • Collins Glass: A more readily available alternative, the tall and slender Collins glass offers ample space for ice and garnishes, ensuring the drink remains chilled.

Garnishing Techniques to Elevate the Drink’s Visual Appeal

Garnishes are more than decorative; they enhance the drink’s sensory experience:

  • Citrus Accents: Lime or orange slices introduce a fresh, zesty aroma. Consider using a zester to create elegant citrus spirals.
  • Mint: Fresh mint not only adds a burst of green but also a refreshing aroma. To maximize its scent, give the sprig a gentle slap before placing it atop the drink.
  • Tropical Touches: Consider adding a pineapple wedge or a leaf for a touch of the tropics. Edible flowers, like orchids, can transform the drink into a tropical masterpiece.
  • Cherry on Top: A maraschino or Luxardo cherry offers a classic, sweet touch. For a gourmet twist, consider using bourbon-soaked cherries.
Garnishing Techniques to Elevate the Drink's Visual Appeal

Curated Insights on Enhancing the Zombie Experience

  • Layering: Master the art of layering by carefully pouring ingredients to create a visually striking gradient effect. This not only looks impressive but also offers a layered tasting experience.
  • Flaming Garnish: A cube of sugar soaked in overproof rum, placed on top and set alight, can add drama. Ensure safety precautions are in place.
  • Ambiance is Everything: The Zombie is more than a drink; it’s an experience. Play tropical or exotica music, use tiki torches, and consider themed decor. The goal is to transport drinkers to a far-off island paradise, if only for a few sips.



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