IBA official cocktail
Base spirit
ServedOn the rocks: poured over ice
Standard garnishmint sprig
Standard drinkware
Zombie glass
IBA specified
  • 45 ml Jamaican dark rum
  • 45 ml Puerto Rican gold rum
  • 30 ml Demerara rum
  • 20 ml fresh lime juice
  • 15 ml falernum
  • 15 ml Donn’s Mix (2 parts fresh yellow grapefruit juice and 1 part cinnamon syrup)
  • 1 tsp Grenadine syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 6 drops Pernod
PreparationMix ingredients in a shaker with crushed ice and shake. Pour into a tall tumbler glass. Garnish with mint leaves.
Reference [1]

The Zombie is a Tiki cocktail made of fruit juices, liqueurs, and various rums. It first appeared in late 1934, invented by Donn Beach at his Hollywood Don the Beachcomber restaurant.[1][2] It was popularized on the East coast soon afterwards at the 1939 New York World's Fair.


Legend has it that Donn Beach originally concocted the Zombie to help a hung-over customer get through a business meeting.[3][4] The customer returned several days later to complain that he had been turned into a zombie for his entire trip. Its smooth, fruity taste works to conceal its extremely high alcoholic content. Don the Beachcomber restaurants limited their customers to two Zombies apiece because of their potency, which Beach said could make one "like the walking dead."[5][6]

According to the original recipe, the Zombie cocktail included three different kinds of rum, lime juice, falernum, Angostura bitters, Pernod, grenadine, and "Don's Mix", a combination of cinnamon syrup and grapefruit juice.[7]

Beach was very cautious with the recipes of his original cocktails. His instructions for his bartenders contained coded references to ingredients, the contents of which were only known to him.[8] Beach had reason to worry; a copy of the Zombie was served at the 1939 New York World's Fair by a man trying to take credit for it named Monte Proser (later of the mob-tied Copacabana).[9][10][11]

Beach's original recipes for the Zombie and other Tiki drinks have been published in Sippin' Safari by Jeff "Beachbum" Berry. Berry researched the origins of many Tiki cocktails, interviewing bartenders from Don the Beachcomber's and other original Tiki places and digging up other original sources. Sippin' Safari details Beach's development of the Zombie with three different recipes dating from 1934 to 1956.[4]

The Zombie was occasionally served heated (a drink more commonly known today as the I.B.A. Hot Zombie), as outlined by the Catering Industry Employee (CIE) journal: "Juice of 1 lime, unsweetened pineapple juice, bitters, 1 ounce heavily bodied rum, 2 ounces of Gold Label rum, 1 ounce of White Label rum, 1 ounce of apricot-flavored brandy, 1 ounce of papaya juice"[12]

The cocktail is named in the lyrics for the song "Haitian Divorce" on the 1976 album The Royal Scam by Steely Dan.[13]

Tiki culture influence

Due to the popularity of the cocktail during the Tiki craze and the fact that Beach kept his recipe secret and occasionally altered it, there are many variations of the Zombie served at other restaurants and bars (some tasting nothing like the original cocktail). The word zombie also began to be used at other tiki themed establishments, such as at the Zombie Hut and Zombie Village.[14][15]

Trader Vic also listed a recipe for the Zombie in his 1947 Bartender's Guide.[16] Other competitors created drinks linked to the zombie. At Stephen Crane's Chicago Kon-Tiki Ports restaurant they featured a drink on the menu called The Walking Dead: "Makes the dead walk and talk. For those who want immediate action - meet the first cousin to the famous 'Zombie'. Demerara 151 rum. 90¢."[17]


  1. ^ "A Zombie Cocktail Recipe - Great Cocktails (UK)". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  2. ^ "Zombie Recipe". beachbumberry.com. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  3. ^ Bitner, Arnold (2001). Hawai'i Tropical Rum Drinks by Don the Beachcomber. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing.
  4. ^ a b Berry, Jeff (2007). Beachbum Berry's sippin' safari : in search of the great "lost" tropical drink recipes...and the people behind them (2. printing ed.). San Jose, Calif.: SLG. p. 103. ISBN 978-1593620677.
  5. ^ Bitner, Arnold (2001). Hawai'i Tropical Rum Drinks by Don the Beachcomber. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing. p. 58.
  6. ^ "Drinking Menu". Don The Beachcomber. Archived from the original on 2013-07-11. Retrieved 2011-06-02.
  7. ^ Jeff Berry (2007). Sippin' Safari. SLG Publishing. p. 121.
  8. ^ Kurutz, Steven (28 November 2007). "Cracking the Code of the Zombie". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  9. ^ Lapis, Diane, Peck-Davis, Anne (2018). Cocktails Across America. Countryman Press.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "Zombie Punch". blog.distiller.com. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  11. ^ Felten, Eric (25 August 2007). "Mystery in a tall glass". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  12. ^ CIE: Volumes 50-51 by Hotel & Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union, Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union, Hotel and Restaurant Employees' International Alliance and Bartenders' International League of America in 1941
  13. ^ "Haitian Divorce Lyrics by Steely Dan". streetdirectory.com/. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  14. ^ Kirsten, Sven (2000). The Book of Tiki. Taschen.
  15. ^ Berry, Jeff (2010). Beachbum Berry Remixed. San Jose: Slave Labor Graphics.
  16. ^ Bergeron, Victor (1947). Bartender's Guide. New York: Garden City.
  17. ^ Berry, Jeff (2017). Sippin' Safari (10th Anniversary ed.). New York: Cocktail Kingdom. p. 221.