The History of the Zombie Cocktail

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With Halloween fast approaching, this classic cocktail seems like an obvious choice for any spooky shenanigans you may be planning! A somewhat complicated blend of various different ingredients, including white rum, dark rum, gold rum, apricot brandy, lime juice, pineapple juice, papaya juice and grenadine, the hangover after one-too-many of these is almost certain to make you feel like a zombie!

Who Invented the Zombie?

The effects of this potent drink are exactly the reasoning behind its name, which is considered so
strong that the bartenders in the whole chain of restaurants of Don the Beachcomber
are only allowed to serve two per customer.

The drink has been around since the 1930’s and was invented in the very first location of Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood, by the founder, Donn Beach. He had originally created the drink for one of his customers who had visited the bar complaining of a bad hangover. He had a business meeting to attend and needed a drink that would help to hide the effects of overindulgence. No doubt working on the hair-of-the-dog principle, Donn created his classic combination, masking the incredibly high alcohol content with a tasty combination of fruit juices. It did not have the desired effect, however, instead making the customer feel like a zombie. As it turns out, the business meeting did not go very well, due to his drunken state!

Protecting the Zombie Secret

Donn was known to be incredibly protective over his cocktail recipes, as so many were quickly ‘borrowed’
by competitor establishments. With the Zombie, the original recipe has been so
well hidden that today’s cocktail is actually a variation of it. Even the
bartenders who sold the original drink were given coded instructions to help
preserve the secret.

Pardon the interruption

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To be completely sure he had thrown his competitors off the scent, Beach changed the tiki recipe
every few months, so that there are now numerous variations of the drink. Some
include falernum, absinthe and almond liqueur, while others have different
varieties of rum, playing with the different flavours and strength of the
drink. We prefer the super fruity variety we have here on,
but we’d love to hear your different takes on the famous drink. However you
make it, be sure to garnish with lots of seasonal fruits and drink slowly and
responsibly – you won’t enjoy the hangover after too many of these!

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Bartender's top tip

Incorporating fresh herbs like mint, basil, or rosemary can add a new dimension to your cocktails. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or even black pepper can also create intriguing and complex flavors. Muddle the herbs gently to release their oils without turning them bitter, or infuse them into simple syrups.

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