Zombie Cocktail Recipe

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Zombie Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Zombie cocktail is a classic Tiki drink that was created by Donn Beach, the founder of Don the Beachcomber, in the 1930s. It was originally created to help a hungover customer get through a business meeting and became an instant hit. The cocktail is known for its potent mix of rums and tropical flavors.

  • The name 'Zombie' comes from the effect it has on the drinker, leaving them in a zombie-like state due to its high alcohol content.
  • The original recipe was kept secret by Donn Beach, with many variations created over the years.
  • It is a popular drink at Tiki bars and tropical-themed parties.

How Zombie Tastes?

The Zombie cocktail is a complex, fruity, and potent drink. It has a sweet and tangy taste with a strong rum flavor, balanced by the tartness of citrus and the subtle spiciness of cinnamon.

Interesting facts about Zombie

  • The Zombie was so popular in the 1930s and 1940s that it was often limited to two per customer at Don the Beachcomber's bar.
  • The original recipe called for a mix of light and dark rums, but modern variations often include overproof rum for an extra kick.
  • The cocktail is traditionally served in a tall, slender glass called a chimney or Collins glass.


  • Light rum: 1.5 oz(45ml)
  • Dark rum: 1.5 oz(45ml)
  • Overproof rum: 1 oz(30ml)
  • Lime juice: 0.75 oz(23ml)
  • Grapefruit juice: 0.75 oz(23ml)
  • Cinnamon syrup: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Grenadine: 0.25 oz(8ml)
  • Angostura bitters: 1 dash
  • Crushed ice: 1 cup
  • Mint sprig: 1
  • Cherry: 1

Light rum

Light rum adds a sweet and slightly fruity flavor to the cocktail. It's the backbone for the Zombie, creating a solid rum flavor without overpowering the other ingredients. If omitted, you'd lose the cocktail's fundamental character. A possible alternative, like white tequila, would introduce an earthier profile to the drink.

Alex Green

Dark rum

Dark rum offers a richer, more molasses-heavy taste, enhancing the cocktail's depth. If left out, the drink would lack complexity and warmth. Swapping with bourbon could offer a similar richness with an additional oaky note.

Mary Mitkina

Overproof rum

This potent elixir raises the alcohol content and adds intensity. Ignore it, and the Zombie loses its signature 'kick.' A substitution could be a high-proof whiskey for a bolder, smokier kick.

Emma Rose

Lime juice

This citrus juice brightens the drink and balances the sweetness with its acidity. Without it, the cocktail could become cloyingly sweet. Lemon juice is a viable alternative but with a slightly different citrus profile.

Alex Green

Grapefruit juice

Brings a tart edge and subtle bitterness, offering complexity to the fruity sweetness. Missing grapefruit juice would make the cocktail one-dimensional. Orange juice could replace it, but it's sweeter and lacks the bitter edge.

Mary Mitkina

Cinnamon syrup

With it, you add a warm, spicy undertone. No cinnamon syrup? The cocktail might feel flat. A pinch of ground cinnamon could work in a pinch, though it may not dissolve as well.

Emma Rose


Just a touch gives a hint of vanilla and red fruit plus a lovely color. If you skip it, the cocktail loses some of its sunset appeal. Pomegranate juice could serve as a substitute but is less sweet.

Alex Green

Angostura bitters

One dash adds a complex layer of herbal flavors and aids digestion. Leave it out, and you lose this depth. Orange bitters could be used as an alternative for a different kind of complexity.

Mary Mitkina

Crushed ice

It chills and dilutes the drink just right. Cubed ice could over-dilute or not chill uniformly.

Emma Rose

Mint sprig

Adds a nose-enticing fresh aroma and eye-pleasing aesthetic. Without it, the presentation and refreshing aroma suffer. Basil could be used for an interesting twist on the aroma.

Alex Green


Provides a sweet, tangy garnish bite and rounds off the presentation. Omitting it isn't the end of the world, but it's the cherry on top of the experience!

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Zombie Drink

  1. Add the light rum, dark rum, overproof rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, cinnamon syrup, grenadine, and Angostura bitters to a shaker.
  2. Fill the shaker with crushed ice and shake well.
  3. Strain the mixture into a tall chimney or Collins glass filled with fresh crushed ice.
  4. Garnish with a mint sprig and a cherry.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh juices for the best flavor.
  • Shake well to ensure all the ingredients are well mixed.
  • Garnish with a mint sprig and a cherry for a classic look.

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Spicy Dishes: The bold flavors of the Zombie cocktail can stand up to the heat of spicy foods, such as jerk chicken or spicy Asian dishes.
  • BBQ Grilled Meats: The smoky sweetness from the rum and the fruit juices complement grilled meats beautifully.
  • Tropical Fruit Salads: A fruit salad with mango, pineapple, and papaya will echo the cocktail's fruity notes.

Drink Pairings

  • Coconut Water: For a non-alcoholic pairing, coconut water can be refreshing and complements the tropical vibe.
  • Chilled Espresso: The coffee's bitterness can create a nice contrast and balance the sweetness of the Zombie.

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What you could change in Zombie

  • Light rum: Can be replaced with white rum.
  • Dark rum: Can be replaced with spiced rum.
  • Overproof rum: Can be replaced with regular rum, but the cocktail will be less potent.
  • Cinnamon syrup: Can be replaced with simple syrup and a dash of cinnamon.

Explore all drinks starting with Z here

And of course - twists🍹

Berry Zombie

  • Ingredients: Use berry-infused rum instead of light rum, add a splash of crème de cassis.
  • Recipe: Follow original recipe, replacing light rum and adding crème de cassis.
  • Flavor Change: More berry notes adding a juicy depth.
  • Experience: You're in for a berry blast with an eye-catching purple hue.

Tropical Zombie

  • Ingredients: Add coconut cream and pineapple juice, replace cinnamon syrup with coconut syrup.
  • Recipe: Mix in coconut cream and pineapple juice, use coconut syrup instead of cinnamon syrup.
  • Flavor Change: Sweeter, creamier, with a coconut twist.
  • Experience: Sip this and you might just hear the ocean in the background.

Spiced Zombie

  • Ingredients: Use spiced rum instead of dark rum, add a slice of fresh ginger.
  • Recipe: Replace dark rum with spiced rum and muddle ginger before shaking.
  • Flavor Change: Adds a warm spice kick and refreshing heat.
  • Experience: For those who like to play with fire – within the comfort of their spice cabinet.

In case you forgot basics how to make Zombie

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Zombie

What is the best type of rum to use in a Zombie cocktail?

There is no definitive rule, but it is generally best to use a good-quality rum that you enjoy the flavor of. This will help to enhance the overall taste of the cocktail.

Can I make a non-alcoholic version of the Zombie cocktail?

Yes, you can make a non-alcoholic version by substituting the rums with a mixture of tropical fruit juices, like pineapple or mango juice. However, the taste will be slightly different.

Is the Zombie a signature cocktail of any particular country or region?

The Zombie, like many tiki drinks, is typically associated with Polynesian-style bars and restaurants, but it's actually an American invention, created in California during the early days of tiki culture.

What type of glassware is needed if I do not have a chimney or Collins glass?

If you do not have a chimney or Collins glass, you can also use a highball glass or any other tall, slender glass. The key is to create a long, cool drink that is visually appealing.

Why is the Zombie cocktail so potent?

The Zombie cocktail is particularly potent due to the mix of different types of rum, including overproof rum, combined in one drink. This is part of its charm and appeal, but it is also why it should be enjoyed responsibly.

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