The Zombie Cocktail along with the Mai Tai, is the most popular cocktail of the Tiki era. Unfortunately, over the years the Zombie has been mixed disproportionately with sub-par ingredients. It has gained a reputation among the youth for being the drink to get you tipsy, fast.
But the Zombie is a cocktail that lives from a sweet-sour balance, just like other classics such as the Daiquiri, Cosmopolitan and Hemingway Special. It is a drink with rum as the basis and the remaining ingredients to support its bouquet and texture. If you pay attention to this, you will not only get a cocktail, you will get a lip-smacking treat.
With so many ingredients that go into making the Zombie, it is hardly a surprise that most of us get its composition wrong. Similarly, it is not surprising that professional bartenders take years to master the skill of balancing the sweet and the sour in such complex cocktails.
In this post we will explain how to create delicious Zombie cocktail in multiple different ways.
The Best Zombie Recipe with 3 Rums
This recipe is the most complex among all the Zombie mixes we describe here. It is also the most tasty. Beware, just one of these and you will be singing merrily through the night!
Amazing Zombie Recipe with 3 Rums
- Citrus juicer
- Bar spoon
- 45 ml aged Jamaica rum
- 45 ml white rum use light rum
- 30 ml Demerara Rum ± 70% vol. alcohol
- 60 ml Velvet Falernum
- 25 ml grenadine
- 1.5 bar spoon absinthe
- 10 ml pink grapefruit juice
- 5 ml cinnamon syrup
- 25 ml fresh lime juice
- 1 dash of Angostura Bitters
- Fill a Tiki mug with crushed ice
- Put all ingredients in a shaker and shake for 12 seconds with 2 ice cubes
- Strain into the Tiki mug
- Garnish the drink with a sprig of mint
Easy Zombie Recipe with 2 Rums
This is the only 2 rum recipe we present here.
Other than being the cheapest Zombie recipe, the number of ingredients in it are also the fewest at 8 in total. That does not mean it is ordinary in its taste. On the contrary, this is probably the best 2-rum Zombie you can concoct this cheaply!
>> View Recipe
The 1934 recipe for Zombie Punch
This recipe is the original recipe for the Zombie Cocktail that its inventor Don the Beachcomber had kept secret for decades. The man was, after all, the inventor of the Tiki bar itself and in constant competition with his arch-rival Trader Vic. In fact when Donn Beach lost the copyright for the Mai Tai to Vic, he became almost paranoid about guarding his recipes.
Basically, only Donn Beach and a few of his employees knew the exact recipe for his cocktails. The clever Don had only numbered the different rums, homemade mixed syrups and liqueurs so that nobody could imitate his cocktails. This secrecy ultimately ensured that everyone had to mix their own variants of the Zombie for decades.
For his original zombie, Donn Beach used a combination of 3 rums: aged Jamaican rum, golden Puerto Rico rum and overproof Demerara rum (over 70% alcohol). The zombie is only served with sufficient crushed ice, since a slight watering down is expressly desired to counteract the strong alcohol content in this drink.
The 1934 Zombie Punch tastes fruity and aromatic with a pleasant sweet-sour balance. The high alcohol content is hardly noticeable at first. But it kicks in strongly midway through. You could also describe it as dangerously tasty.
The 1964 Aku Aku Zombie Recipe
Donn Beach developed this Zombie variant for the Aku Aku Tiki Bar. It is particularly interesting because the white grapefruit makes it lighter and it tastes a bit more modern in general.
Overall, this Zombie recipe is probably the most mass-produced version of a “classic” zombie. The list of ingredients is more straightforward. Despite the amount of ingredients, the drink feels a bit easier to mix. In terms of alcohol strength, the drink is pretty close to the original.
>> View Recipe
Dr. Cocktail’s Zombie Recipe
This recipe is another one people swear by. It is actually used by many good bars around the world. The passion fruit juice gives it another fruity dimension, whereas the bitters add the spicy kick. Truly an outstanding concoction with a great balance between sweet and sour.
>> View Recipe
Best Rums for Zombie
A correctly made Zombie has the following rums in it.
- a white or gold rum with slight aroma profile
- an over-proof rum with about 70% alcohol content
- if possible, a matured dark rum to make things really good with its rich taste and aroma
Recommended White Rums
White rums from the following regions are particularly suitable since they have a light flavor and are not heavy in taste.
- Puerto Rico / St. Croix
- Dominican Republic
Many recipes for zombie cocktails suggest rum from Puerto Rico or offshore islands. For example Ron del Barrilito or Cruzan Rum.
Ron del Barrilito 3 Star Rum
This rum from Puerto Rico can hardly be compared to other types of rum. It most closely resembles an exquisite cognac. Barrilito has deep spicy vanilla notes from the whiskey casks it matures in. It has been produced according to the original recipe since 1880.
Cruzan White Rum
A solid alternative to Bacardi white rum, Cruzan is widely used as the white rum of choice for mixing by many bartenders. It is very smooth and light, without any strong hints of alcohol.
Plantation 3 Stars White Rum
The Plantation 3 Stars rum is one of the most aromatic white rums that have appeared in the past few years. This rum is therefore undoubtedly suitable for the preparation of a Zombie cocktail.
Recommended Overproof Rums
In case this is the first time you are hearing about over-proof rums, there are quite a few of them in the market. Maybe you have heard of Bacardi 151, but this product is no longer being produced by Bacardi. While we cannot say whether any over-proof rum will suit the Zombie, we know for sure that the following two rums are very suitable.
Plantation Overproof O.F.T.D. Rum 69%
Plantation Rum has excelled in the past few years with an excellent feel for the wishes of the bar scene. The Plantation OFTD is a blend of rums from Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados. With 69% alcohol content it makes a great choice as the Demerara rum for the Zombie.
Lemon Hart 151
Lemon Hart 151 was used in the original Zombie by Donn Beach. It has a deep flavor and a seductive treacle aroma. It is great for mixing in cocktails.
Recommended Jamaican Dark Rums
Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Rum
The Appleton 12 years comes from the Appleton distillery in Jamaica. For this rum, the company only used distillates that matured in the barrel for at least 12 years. It is a brilliant choice for the Jamaica rum in a zombie.
Use fresh juice for the perfect Zombie
To make an excellent zombie cocktail, it is important that you only use fresh fruit juices. This is a mantra that has been preached in almost all modern cocktail books. And the reason is very simple. No packaged juice gives you such intensity and complexity as untreated and fresh fruit juice.
However, you should not forget one thing. Citrus juices, such as those made from lemons or limes, only reach their aromatic peak after resting a certain for about 4 to 12 hours in the open. So the next time you make a sour cocktail, squeeze the juice out of your lemons at least 4 hours in advance.
In fact, no matter which Zombie variant you mix, make your juices fresh, whether lime, grapefruit or pineapple. And garnish the zombie with fresh mint at the end. It makes all the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly Zombies!