The fascinating story and the authentic recipe of Zombie cocktail.


The most tiki of the tiki cocktails.

In the mid-1930s, Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, known as Donn Beach, had already made many trips to the South Pacific. His parents initially sent him on a cruise to the wider western United States on his grandfather’s sailboat, and later, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the US Navy, which operated in the same geographical area.

Former bootlegger (those who smuggled alcohol during the 1920 ban until 1933) Donn Beach, after his last trip opened a small bar restaurant in Hollywood. Don the Beachcomber, a 25-seater hole with exotic decor, music, food and drink, quickly became a hangout for most Hollywood stars (for example, Frank Sinatra always had his own table). Donn Beach became the father of tiki culture (which could be defined as the Polynesian cocktail culture based on the American model of the exotic) and his shop is one of the most important in the history of the drink. The most popular tiki cocktails were born in Don the Beachcomber, with Zombie being one of the most worthy representatives of the phase. Zombie was not the first cocktail to combine many rum. But it was the first cocktail that made this mix so popular and was the first famous tiki cocktail in history. Its fishing name showed its dynamics and its alcoholic character.


Many have said that the spirits of Polynesia visit you when you download some zombies, ignoring the fact that the word zombie comes from the popular culture of Haiti, where it refers to a corpse that begins to move again in various ways, usually through magic.

It is no coincidence that the journalists of the time created funny stories about how strong the new drink with its wild character and exotic aromas was: “Only two per customer” was one of the most well-known challenges to the public, something that was also mentioned. in the menu of the bar restaurant. And everyone wanted to prove that they could drink more.

Zombie hype eventually led him to become a valuable piece of the art of mixology. Do not forget that in the 30s no one drank rum, which highlights both the difficulty and the importance of the project. Which he first undertook one afternoon in 1934, when a friend of Donn’s had just walked out of his shop a few hours before his flight to San Francisco.


Donn’s friend drank three of the cocktails containing different rums and reported to the owner of Don the Beatchcomber several weeks later that he felt like a zombie throughout the trip. That was enough to officially christen the cocktail. Its smooth, fruity taste was enough to hide its extremely high alcohol content.

As the trend for tiki cocktails grew, more and more variants of Zombie appeared. But the principles always remained the same: Three different types of rum, lime and grapefruit juice and usually a piece of pineapple for garnish.

The Zombie recipe by Don the Beatchcomber

1/2 measure of rum from Jamaica
1/2 cup gold rum
1/3 measure of rum 151
3/4 cup lime juice
1/4 scoop of grapefruit juice
1 tbsp. cinnamon syrup
1 tbsp. grenadine
1 drop of bitters


Mix all ingredients in mixing glass except rum 151.

Strain into a glass, 3/4 of which accommodate crushed ice.

Add the rum 151 and, if you are in the mood, set it on fire. Alternatively, you can garnish with pineapple and mint.

This article was originally published on :

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