In the great pantheon of classic tiki cocktails, the Zombie has to be one of the best. The Zombie Cocktail is a blend of rums, citrus, pineapple and spice. Invented by Don the Beachcomber, or Donn Beach as he was legally known, in 1934, the Zombie helped to kick off the tiki cocktail craze.. A former bootlegger, Don opened a Polynesian restaurant in Los Angeles in 1937, the Zombie was one of his first signature cocktails. As Jeff Berry recounts in his book “Beachbum Berry Remixed”, Don concocted the recipe for a customer who came in looking for a hangover cure. The story goes that after Don served him this pick-me-up, the customer said “I felt like the living dead–it made a zombie out of me.” Thus, the Zombie Cocktail was born.
“I Walked with a Zombie” movie poster
Finding the Original Zombie Cocktail recipe
There are numerous versions of the Zombie cocktail recipe. Because Don the Beachcomber was super secretive about the recipe, many other bartenders had to recreate their own versions. It was not until Jeff Berry (or Beachbum Berry) began research into Don’s original notes and interviews with his former staff that he was able to piece together Don’s original recipe. If you are interested in all things tiki, you HAVE to check out Beachbum Berry’s books and website. He is the master!
Ingredients for the classic tiki Zombie Cocktail
The Original Zombie Cocktail
by Don the Beachcomber, circa 1934
from the collected tiki recipes in “Beachbum Berry Remixed” by Jeff Berry
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. Don’s mix*
1/2 oz Falernum
1 1/2 oz. gold Puerto Rican rum
1 1/2 oz. aged Jamaican rum (such as Appleton V/X or Extra)
1 oz. 151-proof Demerara rum
dash Angostura bitters
6 drops Pernod
1 teaspoon grenadine
3/4 cup crushed ice
Put everything in a blender. Blend just until mixed (5 seconds). Pour into tall decorative glass. Add ice cubes to fill and garnish with mint sprig.
And here’s my version….
Zombie Cocktail (Kathy Marker version)
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. Falernum
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 1/2 oz. dark Jamaican rum
1 oz. Demerara rum
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Place all the ingredients with 1 cup crushed ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake until cold. Pour into a tall glass (a tiki glass if you have it!). Garnish with pineapple and cherry.
We are now into Week Two of this year’s World Cup, hosted by Brazil. Maybe, like most Americans, you just aren’t into it. Personally, I’m excited by the non-stop world-class soccer that is being played over the next few weeks. All that national pride! All that amazing play! All those hot players! And USA winning their first game!!! I think the best way to celebrate this year’s World Cup in Brazil is to sip the official cocktail of Brazil – the Caipirinha.
Cachaça – the most popular spirit of Brazil
Similar to the mojito or the margarita, the caipirinha reigns supreme in Brazil. Like the margarita, the caipirinha is a lime sour – mixing spirits with sugar and lime juice. What sets it apart is the main ingredient – cachaça – a distilled spirit that is similar to rum. Unlike rum, which is distilled from cane sugar molasses, cachaça is distilled from fermented cane sugar syrup. Made almost exclusively in Brazil, it is now readily available in the U.S. I always use the light cachaça, even though it does come in a dark, aged version as well.
Cachaça – the most popular spirit in Brazil
1 1/2 ounces Cachaça (Brazilian rum)
2 tsp. simple syrup (or 2 teaspoons of brown sugar)
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
Drop the lime wedges into the bottom of a tall cocktail glass. Crush the limes against the bottom of the glass with a muddler or a sturdy wooden spoon to release all of their juices and the oil from the lime peels. Add the simple syrup (or brown sugar) and cachaça. Muddle again to mix with the lime. Add ice and stir to mix. It’s ready to serve!
I actually like to top mine off with sparkling water or Club Soda, to give it more fizz. That’s not really “official” but I do think that it makes it more refreshing.
If you’re not sure how to SAY Caipirinha (it IS a Portuguese word), just click on this helpful YouTube video.
How to Pronounce Caipirinha
Saúde (or Cheers)!!
Caipirinhas – the official cocktail of Brazil
It’s Memorial Day weekend – the official start to summer. Time to put away the dark whiskeys and brandies and pull out the lighter liquors and start pouring the fruity drinks. In that spirit, why don’t you get out the rum and try a classic summer fruity drink. My weekend is starting with the drink that ruled over the Tiki lounges of the 50’s and 60’s – the Mai Tai cocktail.
In Old Havana, Cuba, there is a bar called El Floridita. In 1917, a Catalan bartender named Constantino Ribalaigua Vert began working there and was soon known for the quality of his cocktails. Even if he was an expert mixologist with rum and various fruit juices, he will always be known for his invention of La Floridita Daiquiri.
Inspired by the fresh mint and new batch of strawberries out of my garden, I’m celebrating the beginning of warm weather with Strawberry Mojitos on my front porch tonight. This also gives me a chance to break out the Centenario Añejo 7 rum that my sister Jan brought back to me from her recent trip to Costa Rica. Lucky me!