The Zombie

Appropriately named...


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As promised, here’s the recipe for the original Zombie cocktail from Don the Beachcomber’s bar circa 1934. There’s a reason that Donn only allowed 2 per customer. This is some Depression Era inebriation. It’s not your typical 21st century craft cocktail with complex flavors and “mouthfeel” – It’s more like a velvet covered hammer to your head. In other words, it tastes pretty good, not too sweet or boozy flavored, but it smashes in your skull before you realize what’s happening. Most of my interest in this has to do with the historical mystique and tiki theme, but it also has some tricky preparation aspects that involve secret recipes and time. The most unique ingredient is “Donn’s Mix” which is a cinnamon simple syrup mixed with fresh squeezed grapefruit. If you want to take it further, you can also make your own grenadine which is always a treat. You can read more about the history of the zombie here and here.


The biggest problem is getting the right rums, which I must admit I had to cheat a little because I couldn’t find a 151 proof demerara rum. Instead I used a Smith & Cross 114 proof Jamaican rum. I also used Appleton Estate 12 year private reserve for the other Jamaican rum and some Don Q añejo Puerto Rican rum which I brought back from Puerto Rico, but now have been able to find locally. Apparently the original 151 demerara rum no longer exists, so I think it’s okay to substitute. You’ll be basically turned into a zombie anyway, so it shouldn’t matter that much…


  • 1½ oz. Jamaican rum

  • 1½ oz. gold Puerto Rican rum

  • 1 oz. 151 proof Demerara rum

  • ⅛ oz. absinthe or Pernod

  • ½ oz. falernum

  • ½ oz. Donn’s Mix:

  • 1 part cinnamon syrup

  • 2 parts fresh grapefruit juice

  • 1 tsp. grenadine

  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

  • 6 oz. crushed ice

  • mint sprig garnish


Put it all in a blender, blend at high speed for 5 seconds, pour into tall glass with more ice to fill, garnish and serve.

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All cocktail photos and written content for Drinking and Thinking... © 2019 by Dave Hebb