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Zombie Cocktail Recipe

The Zombie cocktail is a tantalizingly scary delight that’s sure to transport you to a tropical paradise.

It’s a harmonious blend of three types of rum. And that’s perfectly balanced with pineapple juice, passionfruit, and a dash of grenadine.

But beware, this easy-to-make tiki drink is deceptively smooth. So, if you’re ready to experience the thrill of this Zombie rum drink, make sure you have a comfy place to lie down.

Ice filled glass with orangey cocktail garnished with mint leaves.
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Why Is It Called a Zombie Cocktail? 

The Zombie is one of several famous rum cocktails invented by restaurateur Donn Beach.

Owner of the famed Hollywood restaurant, “Don’s Beachcomber,” he crafted this cocktail back in the 1930s.

The story is that Beach invented the drink as a hangover cure. But the drink was so strong, the man who drank it said it turned him into a zombie.

In fact, the drink is so potent, bartenders at Don’s were only allowed to serve two per customer.

Due to local competition from nearby restaurants, Beach kept the OG recipe a secret and shared it sparingly.

He even altered it over the years and used code when writing it down, which is why there are so many variations of the Zombie out there.

My version includes easy-to-find ingredients and tastes pretty darn impressive. Just mind your servings so you don’t turn into a zombie!

Orangey cocktail served on tall glass filled with ice garnished with mint leaves.

Ingredients 

The Zombie cocktail recipe calls for three types of rum. So you need plenty of mixers to balance the booze.

I based this version on Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s book “Sippin Safari”. It’s close to the original recipe but includes readily accessible ingredients.

If you want the OG recipe, check out the next section!

Here’s what you need for this easy version:

  • Gold Rum – Aged rum has a sweet flavor and rich color. 
  • Light Rum – Light rum has a lighter body and makes the drink refreshing. 
  • Lime Juice – Freshly squeezed lime juice is a must. 
  • Pineapple Juice – Fresh or store-bought both work. Just be sure to use a natural brand without added sugar if you can. 
  • Passion Fruit Syrup – You can find this in the cocktail mixer aisle. It adds a delightfully sweet and tart flavor.
  • Grenadine – A splash for sweetness and color.
  • Angostura bitters – For balancing the drink. You only need a dash, so don’t go overboard.
  • 151-proof Dark Rum – This stuff is high-octane! It’s named after the alcohol concentration, which is 75.5 percent by volume. Use it as a floater.
  • Garnish – A lime wedge, mint sprig, or maraschino cherry all work for a garnish. Take your pick or use all three. 

How to Make a Zombie Cocktail

Make this tiki drink and everyone will think you’re a pro! But little do they know, it’s as easy as can be. 

Here’s how to make my Zombie cocktail:

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1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the gold rum, light rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, passion fruit syrup, grenadine, and bitters. 

2. Shake until well chilled.

3. Strain into a glass with fresh ice.

4. Float the 151-proof dark rum over the back of a spoon so it sits on top. 

5. Garnish with a lime wedge, mint, or a maraschino cherry. Serve and enjoy!

Closeup of orange colored cocktail filled on a tall glass filled with ice.

Donn Beach Zombie Recipe 

Wondering what’s in Donn Beach’s original Zombie recipe? Well, it has many of the same additions, with three key ingredients that are less common.

The OG tiki drink included:

  • Falernum is a sweet liqueur or syrup from Barbados. It has a pleasant ginger, lime, and almond blend, and you’ll see it in many tropical drinks.
  • Pernod is an anise-flavored liqueur from France. It’s heavy on the fennel and botanical notes and was created as an alternative to Absinthe.
  • Don’s Mix is basically cinnamon simple syrup. It gives the drink sweetness and warmth.

If you’re an avid cocktail drinker and mixologist, you might have Falernum and Pernod on hand.

But most people don’t, which is why I created a modified version.

Many believe the original recipe was named Zombie Punch. With all the fruit juices, it certainly falls into the category.

No matter what you call it, I highly recommend trying this version. Here’s how to make it:

Donn Beach Zombie Recipe

  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce falernum
  • 1 1/2 ounces gold Puerto Rican rum
  • 1 1/2 ounces gold or dark Jamaican rum
  • 1 ounce Hamilton 151° Overproof Demerara Rum or Lemon Hart 151° Overproof Demerara Rum
  • 1 teaspoon grenadine
  • 6 drops Pernod
  • A dash of Angostura bitters
  • 1/2 ounce Don’s mix*
  • 6 ounces crushed ice

Instructions:

1. Fill a cocktail shaker. Pack a shaker with ice. Add lime juice, falernum, gold rum, dark rum, grenadine, Pernod, Angostura bitters, and Don’s mix.

2. Shake and strain. Shake for about 30 seconds until chilled. Strain into a tall glass full of ice.

3. Float the 151-proof dark rum. Slowly pour over the back of a spoon to make it float on top. Serve and enjoy!

* How To Make Don’s Mix:

  1. Bring 3 crushed cinnamon sticks, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup water to a boil.
  2. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Simmer for two minutes, then remove from the heat.
  4. Let the mixture sit for at least 2 hours before straining into a clean glass bottle.
  5. To finish the mix, add 1 part of the syrup to 2 parts fresh grapefruit juice.
  6. Cover and keep refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Two glasses of orangey cocktail on a tall glass filled with ice garnished with mint leaves.

Recipe Variations

Curious about the other Zombie variations? Give these a try:

  • Donn Beach Zombie. The original recipe! See the ingredients and instructions above.
  • Egyptian Zombie. Use half an ounce each of white rum, dark rum, blackberry brandy, and grenadine. Then, one ounce each of sour mix, pineapple juice, and orange juice.
  • Blended Zombie. Keep all the ingredients the same, but blend them with ice until frosty. 
  • Mango Zombie. Instead of pineapple juice, use fresh mango juice.
  • Dale DeGroff’s Zombie. Swap the gold rum in the recipe for orange curaçao, and leave out the pineapple juice. Then, add lemon and lime juice instead.

More Fun Cocktails To Try

Pink Lady Cocktail
Rum Swizzle
Paper Plane
Bloody Mary Cocktail
Cantarito Cocktail

Zombie Cocktail

Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Calories

359

kcal

This Zombie cocktail is an easy-to-make tiki drink with rum and tropical juices. It’s deceptively smooth and guaranteed to put you in a beachy state of mind.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce gold rum

  • 1 ounce light or white rum

  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice

  • 1 ounce pineapple juice

  • 1 ounce passion fruit syrup

  • 1/2 ounce grenadine

  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

  • 1 ounce 151-proof dark rum

  • Lime wedge, mint sprig, or maraschino cherry for garnish

Instructions

  • In a cocktail shaker, combine the gold and white rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, passion fruit syrup, grenadine, and bitters. Fill the shaker with ice.
  • Shake vigorously until the shaker feels cold, about 30 seconds.
  • Strain the cocktail into a tall glass filled with fresh ice.
  • Slowly pour the 151-proof dark rum over the back of a spoon to make it float on top.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge, mint, or a maraschino cherry. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • To add visual appeal and a gradient effect, slowly pour the grenadine down the side of the glass.
  • For a Zombie slushy, blend the entire cocktail with crushed ice instead of shaking it.
Zombie Cocktail Recipe

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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