Zombie

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Cocktail History

The Zombie is a classic cocktail that was created in the 1930s by Don the Beachcomber, who is considered the founding father of the modern tiki drink scene. Cocktail lore states that he randomly came up with the recipe, which mixes rums, citrus, spices, and his famous mix, in front of a customer. The businessman later reported back that it made him feel “like a zombie” for the rest of his trip, and the name stuck.

Cocktail Ingredients

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

Dark Rum: This is a type of rum made with molasses or sugarcane juice, spices, and alcohol that has been barrel aged for a long period of time. We used Largo Bay 151 Gold Rum because it has a strong and rich rum flavor with notes of tropical fruit. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Caleño Non-Alcoholic Dark & Spicy Tropical Spirit in place of the dark rum.

White Rum: This is a type of rum made with molasses or sugar cane juice and alcohol that is filtered and bottled right away without the aging process. We used Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum because it has a crisp rum flavor with notes of lime, marzipan, allspice, ground ginger, and oak. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic White Cane Spirit in place of the white rum.

151 Proof Rum: This is a type of rum made with sugarcane, spices, and water that has been barrel aged for the longest period of time of any rum. We used Gosling’s Black Seal 151 Proof Rum because it a has a rich rum flavor. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Caleño Non-Alcoholic Dark & Spicy Tropical Spirit in place of the rum.

Velvet Falernum Liqueur: This is a liqueur made with ginger, lime, almond, cloves, sugar, and alcohol. For a mocktail version of this drink, try BG Reynolds Falernum Bar Syrup in place of the velvet falernum liqueur.

Don’s Mix: This is a sweetener made with grapefruit juice, cinnamon sticks, and sugar.

Lime Juice: This is the liquid juice of a lime. We used freshly squeezed lime juice.

Absinthe: This is a spirit made with anise, wormwood, fennel, botanicals, and alcohol. We used Great Lakes Distillery Amerique 1912 Absinthe Verte because it’s flavorful and made locally to us. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Absinthe in place of the absinthe.

Grenadine: This is a sweetener made with pomegranate juice and white sugar. We made ours at home using Alex’s stovetop recipe.

Aromatic Bitters: This is a food product made with botanicals, herbs, and alcohol. We used Angostura Aromatic Bitters. For a mocktail version of this drink, try All The Bitter Alcohol-Free Aromatic Bitters in place of the aromatic bitters.

Mint Sprig: This is an herb. We used Mojito mint.

Bartending Tools

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

Jigger: This is used to measure and pour ingredients. We used the Japanese jigger from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Boston Shaker: This is used to shake ingredients. We used the Boston shaker from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Hawthorne Strainer: This is used to strain out ice and solid ingredients after the cocktail is shaken. We used the A Bar Above Hawthorne Strainer.

Paring Knife: This is used to cut ingredients. We used the OXO Good Grips 3.5 Inch Paring Knife.

Juicer: This is used to juice citrus. We used the ALEEHAI Manual Fruit Juicer.

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.

Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

Take Our Quiz →

Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

Take Our Quiz →

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: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks by the editors of PUNCH and Megan Krigbaum.

Sale
The Essential Cocktail Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks with 150 Recipes
The Essential Cocktail Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks with 150 Recipes
Hardcover Book; Editors of PUNCH (Author); English (Publication Language); 352 Pages – 09/05/2017 (Publication Date) – Ten Speed Press (Publisher)
$13.05 Amazon Prime

AuthorThe Essential Cocktail Book

Yields1 ServingPrep Time5 mins

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 Aromatic Bitters
 1 Mint Sprig

Method
1

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

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a tiki glass over fresh cracked 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 Aromatic Bitters
 1 Mint Sprig

Directions

Method
1

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

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a tiki glass over fresh cracked ice.

4

Garnish with mint sprig.

Zombie

Make It a Mocktail: Use Caleño Non-Alcoholic Dark & Spicy Tropical Spirit in place of the dark rum, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic White Cane Spirit in place of the white rum, BG Reynolds Falernum Bar Syrup in place of the velvet falernum liqueur, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Absinthe in place of the absinthe, and All The Bitter Alcohol-Free Aromatic Bitters in place of the aromatic bitters to try a booze-free version of this drink.

Shop Glassware & Tools

Find collections of cocktail glassware and bartending tools we recommend for your home bar in our Amazon shop.

Anchor Hocking Screaming Tiki Glasses,470 milliliters
Anchor Hocking Screaming Tiki Glasses,470 milliliters
Set of two 16 ounce glasses; Glasses are approximately 6 1/4″ tall and 3″ wide; Commercial grade heavy duty Glassware from Anchor Hocking Company
$15.04 Amazon Prime
OXO Good Grips 3.5 Inch Pairing Knife,Black/Silver,3-1/2-Inch
OXO Good Grips 3.5 Inch Pairing Knife,Black/Silver,3-1/2-Inch
Sturdy, stainless steel blade; Soft, comfortable, non-slip handle ensures a safe grip; Hand wash with warm, soapy water and promptly dry
$9.95 Amazon Prime

More Tiki Cocktails

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

Nui Nui Cocktail Recipe

Nui Nui: A rum cocktail made with orange juice, lime juice, cinnamon syrup, vanilla syrup, St. Elizabeth’s allspice dram, Angostura aromatic bitters, an orange twist, and a cinnamon stick

Jamaican Mule Cocktail Recipe

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

Ginger Inferno Cocktail Recipe

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

Iron Ranger Cocktail Recipe

Iron Ranger (Variation): A whiskey cocktail made with pineapple juice, lemon juice, velvet falernum liqueur, cinnamon syrup, Angostura aromatic bitters, mint, and a cinnamon stick

This post contains affiliate links, meaning we make a small commission each time you purchase a product using our links. Product images sourced from Amazon Product Advertising API. Amazon affiliate links last updated on 2024-02-26.

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