Zombie

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Cocktail History

The Zombie is a classic tiki cocktail that was created by Don the Beachcomber, often considered the founding father of the tiki cocktail scene as we know it, back in the 1930s. Cocktail lore states that he came up with it on a whim in front of a customer who reported that it made him feel like a zombie for the rest of his business trip, and the name stuck. Like many of Donn’s other recipes, the Zombie is traditionally made with a base of mixed rums, fresh fruit juices, exotic spices, and his secret ingredient, Donn’s Mix, the recipe for which was not discovered until 2007.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Jamaican Rum: This is one of the base spirits. It balances out the uniqueness of the rum. We used Wray & Nephew Gold Jamaican because it’s high quality yet still affordable, full flavored while still being lighter than other rums, and lends exotic spice flavors to the finish of the drink.

Puerto Rican Rum: This is another base spirit. We used BACARDÍ Superior White Rum for its soft and sweet taste that pairs well with fruity ingredients without overpowering them.

151 Proof Rum: This is the third base spirit. We used Gosling’s Black Seal 151 Proof Rum for its high alcohol content and rich flavor.

Velvet Falernum Liqueur: This is a low-proof liqueur. It adds Caribbean flair with an infusion of botanicals along with lime, almond, and cloves.

Donn’s Mix: This is a sweetener that also adds citrus flavor. It was Donn The Beachcomber’s secret ingredient made with grapefruit juice, cinnamon sticks, and sugar.

Lime Juice: This adds sour citrus flavors that balance out the other ingredients. We used fresh citrus juice because it’s less bitter than the bottled stuff and tastes better.

Absinthe: This spirit adds a hint of the Green Fairy’s distinct licorice aroma when spritzed on top. We used Amerique 1912 Absinthe Verte made by Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin because it’s local to us.

Grenadine: This adds tart pomegranate flavor and sweetens the drink. We made ours using Alex’s homemade recipe.

Angostura Aromatic Bitters: This is a type of spirit infused with botanicals. They add more spice and complexity to the drink and tie the other flavors together.

Mint: This is one of the garnishes. It adds fragrant mint aromas to the drink as you sip.

Tasting Notes

The Zombie begins with the cool aroma of mint and follows into a concoction of citrus-laced rum flavors, while the eclectic mixture of spices tingle on the tongue and the slight anise burn of absinthe chases it down.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: We enjoyed this drink, but Alex liked it a bit more than Kendall did. She thought it featured a bit too much absinthe, while Alex loved its unique, strong flavors.

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“The Zombie is a tiki classic for a reason. It boasts an absolutely incredible amount of rum, so it’s no wonder its potential origin story involves a man having too many and being unable to function the next day. Despite the abundance of alcohol content, it still manages to taste quite good. With a bit of grapefruit sweetness, lime’s tartness for balance, and a bit of added sugar, it’s kind of amazing that it tastes as good as it does, but it’s definitely a tiki drink that I consider to have a “sharp” taste; it’s less fruity, fun, and beachy and is instead more spirituous and complex.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐
“The Zombie is said to be one of the most iconic tiki cocktails of all time, but if I’m completely honest, I didn’t find it as mind-blowing as I expected. Although tart and boozy, it’s not quite fruity enough and is a little too heavy on the absinthe for my palate. I think I’ve just come to love pineapple drinks most of all followed by coconut and then citrus. I would definitely try this drink if you’ve never had it because you may feel differently, but I would choose the Mai Tai or Greena Colada over this.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from The Essential Cocktail Book: The Complete Guide to Modern Drinks by the editors of PUNCH and Megan Krigbaum.

AuthorThe Essential Cocktail BookPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 1 ½ oz Jamaican Rum
 1 ½ oz Puerto Rican Rum
 1 oz 151 Proof Rum
 ½ oz Velvet Falernum Liqueur
 ½ oz Don's Mix
 ¾ oz Lime Juice
 2 dashes Absinthe
 1 dash Grenadine
 1 dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 1 Mint Sprig

Method
1

Add rums, velvet falernum liqueur, Don's mix, lime juice, absinthe, grenadine, bitters, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a tiki glass over crushed ice.

4

Garnish with mint sprig.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 1 ½ oz Jamaican Rum
 1 ½ oz Puerto Rican Rum
 1 oz 151 Proof Rum
 ½ oz Velvet Falernum Liqueur
 ½ oz Don's Mix
 ¾ oz Lime Juice
 2 dashes Absinthe
 1 dash Grenadine
 1 dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 1 Mint Sprig

Directions

Method
1

Add rums, velvet falernum liqueur, Don's mix, lime juice, absinthe, grenadine, bitters, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a tiki glass over crushed ice.

4

Garnish with mint sprig.

Zombie

Tools & Glassware We Recommend

More Tiki Cocktails

If you like this tiki cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Paradise Lost: A vodka and sherry cocktail made with coconut water, lime juice, orgeat syrup, Angostura aromatic bitters, and mint

Ginger Inferno: A rum cocktail made with ginger liqueur, velvet falernum liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, a lime slice, and candied ginger

Jamaican Mule: A rum cocktail made with ginger syrup, lime juice, pineapple juice, Angostura aromatic bitters, candied ginger, a lime slice, and an orchid blossom

 Staycation: A rum and whiskey cocktail made with coconut cream, lemon juice, apricot liqueur, passion fruit syrup, a lemon slice, and mint

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