This boozy Halloween Zombie Cocktail is a blend of 3 rums, liqueurs, and citrus juices kissed with tropical Passionfruit puree. It’s a mouthwatering twist on a Tiki Classic!
Cocktail hour at Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen is always an event. We love to make our own spice infused simple syrups and fresh squeezed citrus juices. Check out Friday Flame, another of our fun Tiki drink creations.
Of course, a cocktail wouldn’t be complete without garnish. These Cocktail Cherries are…well they ARE the cherry on top.
The Beginnings of Tiki Culture
If you are reading this, I have to assume you are at least curious about Tiki Culture. Tiki is more than just strong rum cocktails or dollar store leis. For peoples in the South Pacific it’s a rich culture and heritage. For enthusiasts, it’s a state of mind.
Original Tiki culture was (and still is) an important part of the history, mythology, and culture of the South Pacific. So many Polynesian islands (including the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand, Easter Island, etc) developed rich cultural heritage around Tiki gods, including origin stories and awe inspiring legends.
In the 1930’s, Americans became infatuated with Polynesian art and culture and the first themed Tiki bar, opened in 1934 once prohibition was over.
Don the Beachcomber
Donn Beach (originally Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt) a prohibition bootlegger returned to Hollywood inspired from his travels in the South Pacific.
He opened Don the Beachcomber there in 1934 where he served rum laced cocktails accented with tropical flavours.
However, it wasn’t ALL about the cocktails. The décor was meant to transport customers to the tropics; from the bamboo bar and barstools to the fish netting on the walls and the ‘rain’ pattering on the tin roof it was a truly immersive experience.
Donn Beach was a creative and prolific bartender. He focused mainly on drinks made with rum mixed with tropical fruit juices such as guava, lime, passionfruit, and pineapple juice.
Though many of the recipes have been lost and reimagined over the years, he is credited with creating around 84 different cocktails including the original Zombie Cocktail.
What is a Zombie Cocktail?
The Zombie Cocktail is the tropical drink that started the Tiki craze. Not for the faint of heart, the drink includes a blend of over proof, gold, and dark rums, lime and grapefruit juice, pernod, grenadine, bitters, and spices.
However, Donn Beach was very careful to keep the exact recipe a secret, even going so far as to provide his employees with coded recipes, numbering bottles in the bar, and creating secret mixes.
For an in depth (and entirely entertaining) account of one man’s quest to nail down the original Zombie Punch recipe, read How to Make a Zombie by Beachbum Berry. Here are the ingredients for Donn’s 1934 original:
Donn Beach’s 1934 Zombie Punch
- 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce falernum
- 1 1/2 ounces gold Puerto Rican rum
- 6 drops Pernod
- 1 1/2 ounces gold or dark Jamaican rum
- 1 ounce 151-proof Lemon Hart Demerara rum
- a dash of Angostura bitters
- 1 teaspoon grenadine
- 1/2 ounce Don’s mix (2 parts grapefruit juice to 1 part cinnamon syrup
Glossary of Common Ingredients
Gold Rum – or ‘Amber’ rum is generally a darker coloured rum that has been aged in wooden barrels (usually bourbon barrels).
Over Proof Rum – a rum with more than 57.5% alcohol content.
Demerara Rum – a dark rum from Guyana made using molasses.
Falernum – an alcoholic or non alcoholic syrup made of ginger, lime, and almond mixed with spices such as cloves and/or allspice. Velvet Falernum is a heavier syrup with greater texture.
Pernod/Absinthe – anise flavoured spirits derived from multiple botanicals.
Bitters – neutral spirits infused with any number of botanicals including spices, tree bark, roots, seeds, fruits, etc. Used in small amounts.
Grenadine – a simple syrup made with pomegranate juice.
Cointreau/Curacao – orange flavoured liqueurs.
The Halloween Zombie Cocktail
It’s difficult to mess with Donn’s Zombie Cocktail perfection. If you change too much of the recipe and is it still a Zombie or an entirely new creation?
These two Zombie Cocktail variations were created for a local Halloween Zombie cocktail competition. The competition rules stipulated that each cocktail contain a maximum 3 ounces of alcohol as per local liquor laws.
This means that unlike the original Zombie Punch, these two cocktails are a bit more fruit forward. Just a bit. Don’t get too thirsty though, a few of these will still set you on your behind!
The orange cocktail (named Shaun of the Dead for the competition) is fruity, with a great passionfruit kick emphasized by the over proof rum and absinthe.
A Jamaican Zombie Variation
The second cocktail, Jamaican Me Zombie is a Caribbean spin on the Classic Zombie Cocktail with a touch of Agua de Jamaica.
Agua de Jamaica, or Sorrel Drink is a steeped hibiscus flower beverage containing warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.
Zombie Cocktail Garnishes
Before you begin mixing the cocktail, choose a tall glass and create your garnish. A garnish can be as simple as a fresh mint sprig, a sliced orange wheel, or a cocktail pick with cherries. When all else fails, go with the quintessential Tiki Cocktail garnish; a paper umbrella.
For a fun Halloween garnish, carefully slice a round cheek from an orange. Scrape off the fruit and part of the pith with a sharp knife then carve in a jack o lantern face.
Use the orange jack o lantern as is or combine it with a hollowed out lime half. Place a dried bread cube doused with some over proof rum in the lime, set it behind the carved orange, and light it on fire to serve.
How to Make a Zombie Cocktail
Donn Beach’s original Zombie Punch is a blended Tiki cocktail. All of the ingredients are mixed in a shaker, then blended with ice for a short amount of time.
For these two Zombie Cocktails, place all the ingredients (minus the bitters) in a cocktail shaker and give them a dry shake (don’t add ice to the shaker).
Place crushed ice in the cocktail glass, pour the mixture over the ice and dash the bitters over top. Garnish and serve with a straw.
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