Weekend Cocktails: Zombie Madness

   In light of World Zombie Day on Saturday and the return of everyone’s favorite zombie-themed television show, The Walking Dead, on Sunday, we’re dedicating this weekend’s roundup of cocktails to our undead comrades. The Zombie and Corpse Revivers earns their nomenclature: the Zombie is notorious for its rum-heavy makeup, falling under the “no more than two per customer” category at the local watering hole, while the Corpse Reviver is the classic “hair of the dog” sip, perking up the walking dead after a heavy night of boozing. Brains! (That's Zombie speak for, “Cheers!”)


Friday Happy Hour: Kickin’ It Old School

   Let’s begin with the sip that ignited the walking dead craze. Originating with a West Coast original, Donn Beach (Earnest Raymond Beaumont Gantt) of Don the Beachcomber fame, the Zombie made its way to the bar back in 1934. The recipe was held under lock and key, a proprietary of the legendary restaurant, but through some investigative research, Jeff Berry was able to cobble the original recipe together. By way of his book Sippin’ Safari; we present Donn’s Zombie.


Zombie, circa 1934Zombie cocktail recipe - original - Don the Beachcomber - Jeff Berry - Sippin' Safari

  • 1½ oz. Jamaican rum
  • 1½ oz. gold Puerto Rican rum
  • 1 oz. 151-proof Demerara rum
  • 1/8 tsp. Herbsaint or Pernod
  • ½ oz. Falernum
  • ½ oz. Donn’s Mix (recipe below)
  • 1 tsp. grenadine
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 6 oz. crushed ice

Put everything in a blender, adding ice in last. Blend at high for no more than five seconds. Pour into glass and add ice cubes to fill. Garnish with a sprig of mint.


Donn’s Mix

  • 3 cinnamon sticks, crushed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Fresh grapefruit juice

Create a simple syrup using cinnamon sticks, sugar and water. Once cool, finish mixture by combining one part simple syrup to two parts grapefruit juice.


Saturday is for Tiki Culture

   Presented at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the Zombie quickly became a household favorite. With its Beachcomber roots, it became a mainstay of the tiki movement in the 1950s, when paper umbrellas and hurricane glasses were a must for every well-stocked bar.

   Today, the Zombie has maintained that “freak” of the tiki sips, finding new footing at Mad Men viewing parties and Polynesian-themed backyard barbecues. Below is the most common Zombie recipe around. It drops a few of Don the Beachcomber’s more unusual ingredients for a more straightforward booze blast to the brain. Enjoy, followed by water.

 Zombie cocktail - how to cocktails - recipes - tiki drinks

Zombie, circa 1950s

  • 1½ oz. dark rum
  • ¾ oz. white rum
  • ¾ oz. spiced rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • ¾ oz. pineapple juice
  • ¾ oz. papaya juice
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • 1 dash of Angostura bitters
  • ¼ oz. 151 proof rum

Stir all ingredients, except 151, and pour into a Collins/Zombie glass half full of cracked ice. Float 151 on top. If you’re feeling froggy, light this bad boy on fire; if not, garnish with some fruit, either a lemon or pineapple wedge, and maraschino cherries.


Sunday Funday: Déjà, Déjà, Déjà Vu

   We’re “reviving” a few July selections for this week’s entry for three reasons: 1) It has revive in the name; 2) it fits right in with the walking dead theme; and 3) because we can!

   The Corpse Reviver family is all about curing what ails ya’, and if stuck to our zombie sips from Friday and Saturday, then you’ll certainly need a Sunday Funday pick-me-up.  
Corpese Reviver -Zombie cocktails - hair of the dog - cocktail recipes   There are two trains of thought on this classic cocktail: Come original with the cognac-based Calvados (apple brandy) Corpse Reviver, or switch it up and get gin happy with an absinthe accent for the Corpse Reviver #2. Both are great in their own right, but my personal preference leans toward the gin. Enjoy, my walking dead brethren! 


Corpse Reviver

  • 2 oz. cognac
  • 1 oz. Calvados (apple brandy)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 Corpse Reviver #2 - Zombie cocktails - cocktail recipes - tiki culture

Corpse Reviver #2

  • 1 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
  • 1 oz. Lillet Blanc
  • 1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 dash of absinthe

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry or a twist of lemon. 


If you would like to nominate a cocktail recipe to appear in our latest series “Weekend Cocktails,” email the online editor here.


Your Weekend Cocktails - Zombie madness - cocktail recipes


Tools of the Trade

Become a master mixologist, or at least look like one, with the tools that make the trade.

Your Weekend Cocktails - Tools to Make a Pro - Williams-Sonoma


  • Muddler: This little tenderizing stick is a godsend and a must for any home bar. If fruity cocktails are in your future, the muddler is the only way to unlock fruits’ flavor.
  • Handheld Citrus Juicer: Nothing beats freshly squeezed juice, but it can be a pain. Invest in a handheld citrus juicer; they are cheap and do the trick tout de suite.
  • Cocktail Shaker: Don’t be a chump stirring your martini like a noob; purchase a nice shaker and become a master home barkeep.
  • Jigger: This little apparati will make mixing the perfect drink as easy as pie. It's equipped with 1½ oz. and ¾ oz. cups for perfectly measured pours every time.

*Pictured available at Williams-Sonoma

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