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home : columnists : sunday cocktail March 29, 2017

3/15/2017 10:00:00 AM
Zombies spotted in tiki bars
by Brian Rung


Zombies are coming! Well, zombies are coming back for an eighth season of The Walking Dead in 2017.

The upcoming season will mark 100 episodes for the most watched television series of all time. Face it folks, zombies are hot.

Seventy years before they appeared in hit television shows, zombies were frequently spotted at tiki bars as early as the 1930's. Of course the zombies at the bar were cocktails, and this week we are going to serve up the original 1934 recipe from the creator of the Zombie, Donn Beach.

There are two names that must be included in every tiki history lesson: Donn Beach aka Don The Beachcomber, and Vic Bergeron aka "Trader Vic."


Both were an integral part of launching the post-war tiki craze and are responsible for creating many of the iconic tiki drinks that are popular today.

Don and Trader Vic were amicable rivals throughout their careers as restaurateurs. The only source of great contention between the two is the Mai Tai, as both have claimed to have invented the cocktail.

Other than that, each ran successful Polynesian-themed restaurants that shaped the image in our mind that appears when we think "tiki bar."

We can't be 100 percent sure who first made the Mai Tai, but we know that Donn Beach created the Zombie. There are easily 100 different ways to make a Zombie - shaken, stirred, frozen, rocks and flaming (yes, you can light it on fire).

The only common thread in the many zombie recipes found both online and in bartending books is that they all contain a boatload of rum. Seriously, these are a bit heavy.

The Zombie is so potent that Donn limited his customers to two Zombies per visit. Legend has it that the Zombie was first served to a hungover business traveler to help him get through a business meeting. The businessman returned to the bar a few days later and informed Donn that the drink had turned him into a zombie for the entire trip. Fair enough, Donn called his creation the "Zombie."

The recipe featured below is the undisputed, original recipe. How can we be sure?

We can be sure because this recipe was discovered in Dick Santiago's notebook from 1937. Santiago was a Beachcomber's waiter who had written down the recipe and marked it "old" in or around 1937.

Donn changed the recipe many, many times until his death in 1989 at the age of 82. There is more than one correct way to make the Zombie, but there is only one original. If you are a fan of tiki, you owe it to yourself to try the original.

A quick glance at the ingredients below may intimidate those not wearing a Hawaiian shirt and/or a shark tooth necklace. Yes, there are 10 ingredients in the original Zombie, but three of them are rum.

There are two ingredients used in the original Zombie that are not commonly used ingredients, one is Don's Mix, the other is Pernod.

Don's Mix is a simple sugar syrup made from two parts grapefruit juice and one part cinnamon-infused sugar syrup.

It can be made from scratch, or purchased online as "Paradise Blend" by BG Reynolds. I prefer to purchase the commercially available syrup. It is inexpensive and cuts down on valuable prep time.

Pernod is an anise-flavored liqueur created in 1932 in response to the ban on the sale of absinthe. Its use in tiki drinks is literally limited to drops as opposed to ounces.

Pernod has the ability to overpower a drink, so use caution. One bottle should last a full season of tiki cocktails in your home bar.

Falernum is a tiki staple and an ingredient that must be in your arsenal if you plan on jumping into tropical mixology. Falernum syrup is the secret weapon in many Caribbean cocktails and contains notes of almonds, lime, clove, vanilla and ginger. Fee Brothers falernum is widely available and is the best one that I have used.

Lastly, note that the Zombie calls for 151 rum, specifically a Demerara rum. The two most widely available Demerara rums are Lemon Hart and El Dorado.

If you plan on lighting your Zombie on fire, the 151 should be the last ingredient added prior to serving. Simply float the shot of 151 on top of the drink, and light.

Always exercise caution around open flames folks, practice before you light the drink in front of someone at the bar. Seriously, practice or your guests will leave without eyebrows.

Combine in blender:

3/4 oz fresh lime juice

1/2 oz Don's Mix

1/2 oz falernum

1 1/2 oz gold rum (Cruzan or Appleton Special Gold)

1 1/2 oz aged Jamaican rum (Appleton Estate Extra)

1 oz 151 Demerara rum (Lemon Hart or El Dorado)

Dash Angostura bitters

1/8 teaspoon (5-6 drops) Pernod

Teaspoon grenadine

3/4 cup crushed ice

Blend for 4 to 5 seconds, then pour contents into chimney (tall) glass, add ice cubes to fill.

Until next week, enjoy responsibly.







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