How to Make the Original Zombie Cocktail

Categories: Last Call

Zombie-jk-grence.jpg
JK Grence

I have had more than a few people lately ask me . . .

What's a good drink to serve at my Halloween party?

The easy answer is: Take your favorite punch recipe and add a block of dry ice to it to create a layer of billowing fog. Dim the lights and throw a couple of glow sticks on top to make it extra-eerie. While that's fun, it's almost more suited for a kids' halloween party. I have a better idea. Let's go into the vaults and make one of my favorite Tiki drinks, the Zombie.

The Zombie has quite the storied history. It was created way back in 1934 by one Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt. He changed his name to Donn Beach, and opened a little tropical-themed restaurant and bar called Don the Beachcomber. Soon, competing tropical paradises dotted the country, including a few by Victor Bergeron, who you know better as the inventor of the Mai Tai, Trader Vic.

See Also: How to Make the Perfect Mai Tai

While Don invented quite a few tropical drinks, he was arguably most famous for the Zombie. Back in the mid-1930s, he was working on a new drink. He gave a test version to a regular who happened to be on his way off to a business trip. The guy liked it so much, he ordered another one. The man then went off on his trip. When he came back, he told Don that the drink made him feel like the living dead for the entire trip. Don decided on two things. First, the name of the drink was going to be the Zombie. Second, there was going to be a limit of two per person.

The original Zombie recipe demonstrates the immense secrecy that went into Tiki drinks back in their heyday. These signature drinks were the lifeblood of Tiki bars, so proprietors went to great lengths to make sure nobody could copy their original recipes. How secure was the Zombie? The drink was created in 1934, and the code was cracked by Tiki historian Jeff "Beachbum" Berry less than five years ago.


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