Zulu Cocktail Recipe

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Zulu 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 Zulu cocktail is a tropical and exotic drink that originated in South Africa. It was first created in the 1960s by a bartender named Sipho Mabona, who was inspired by the vibrant and colorful Zulu culture. This cocktail quickly gained popularity among tourists and locals alike, and has since become a staple in many bars around the world.

  • The Zulu cocktail is named after the Zulu people, who are the largest ethnic group in South Africa.
  • The drink is often associated with celebrations and festivities, as it embodies the lively spirit of the Zulu culture.
  • It is especially popular during the summer months, when people are looking for refreshing and fruity drinks to enjoy.

How Zulu Tastes?

The Zulu cocktail is a delightful mix of sweet, sour, and fruity flavors. It has a tangy citrus taste from the lime and orange juices, balanced by the sweetness of the pineapple juice and grenadine. The rum adds a warm, smooth, and slightly spicy kick, making this drink both refreshing and invigorating.

Interesting facts about Zulu

  • The Zulu cocktail is sometimes called the 'Rainbow Cocktail' due to its vibrant and colorful appearance.
  • The drink is often served in a tall glass, allowing for a beautiful presentation of its various layers and colors.
  • The Zulu cocktail is a popular choice for beach parties and poolside gatherings, as its tropical flavors and refreshing taste make it a perfect summer drink.


White Rum

Used as the alcoholic base, white rum brings a subtly sweet and slightly grassy flavor. The 1.5 oz is a standard shot, enough to let you know it's there without overpowering the fruits. Miss out on it, and you'll just have a fruit punch on your hands – who wants that at a party? If you swap it with dark rum, you'll get a more pronounced, molasses-like flavor that might steal the limelight from the fresh juices.

Alex Green

Orange Juice

2 oz of this sunny delight adds a citrus zing and a bit of tartness to balance the sweetness. Less, and you might not even notice it; more, and it’s like drinking a pulpy breakfast juice – not what you’re here for. No OJ? Try tangerine juice for a similar, yet slightly different citrus twist.

Emma Rose

Pineapple Juice

Another 2 oz for tropical sweetness and acidity, it's like a vacation in a cup. Too little, and your taste buds might start protesting; too much, and it’s aloha to everything else. If the store is fresh out, mango juice could step in, bringing a different kind of tropical sweetness.

Mary Mitkina

Lime Juice

With 0.5 oz, this is the kick your cocktail needs – it’s the zest to your life! Skip it, and the cocktail might be one-dimensional. Swap with lemon juice if necessity calls, but expect a slightly less complex flavor.

Alex Green


The bottom of your glass needs this 0.5 oz of pomegranate sweetness for a splash of color and a pinch more sweetness. Leave it out, and you lose the sunset effect. Pomegranate molasses could substitute, though it’s a tad more tart and thick.

Emma Rose


1 cup to chill the party down. No ice is like a beach with no ocean – just not as refreshing. If your freezer fails, try chilling the ingredients beforehand.

Mary Mitkina

Orange Slice, Pineapple Wedge, Maraschino Cherry

Garnishes aren't just for show – they hint at the flavors inside. Without them, your cocktail feels undressed. If you're out of oranges, a twist of lime peel could give that citrus hint; for pineapple, a little sprig of mint might trick the eye.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Zulu Drink

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add the white rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, and lime juice to the shaker.
  3. Shake well until all ingredients are well combined and chilled.
  4. Strain the mixture into a tall glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Slowly pour the grenadine over the back of a spoon, allowing it to sink to the bottom of the glass and create a layered effect.
  6. Garnish with an orange slice, pineapple wedge, and maraschino cherry.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh juices whenever possible for the best flavor.
  • Chill your glass before pouring the cocktail to keep it cool longer.
  • Pour the grenadine slowly to achieve the perfect layered effect.

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Grilled Seafood: The citrus notes in the Zulu cocktail complement the flavors of grilled fish or shrimp.
  • Spicy Appetizers: The sweetness of the drink can balance out the heat in dishes like hot wings or jalapeño poppers.
  • Fruit Salads: A tropical fruit salad would echo the fruity elements of the cocktail.
  • Coconut Desserts: The tropical vibes of the drink make it a perfect match for coconut-flavored desserts,

Drink Pairings

  • Coconut Water: For a non-alcoholic complement that maintains the tropical theme.
  • Chilled Green Tea: Its subtle flavors can provide a refreshing contrast.

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What you could change in Zulu

  • White rum can be replaced with dark rum for a deeper flavor.
  • Orange juice can be substituted with grapefruit juice for a more tangy taste.
  • Maraschino cherry can be replaced with a strawberry for a different twist.

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And of course - twists🍹

Smoky Zulu

  • Add 0.5 oz of mezcal
  • Stir in a smoky salt rim

Shaking things up with a smoky kick, mezcal introduces an earthy complexity. Salty rim? That's for a touch of the unexpected. It's like your Zulu went camping and came back with tales of the wilderness.

Zulu Sunrise

  • Replace grenadine with 0.5 oz of Chambord
  • Include a splash of soda water

It’s a raspberry twist on the classic sunset look, and the soda water brings in a bubbly sunrise feel. It’s fresh, it’s new, it’s a morning in the savannah inside your glass.

Herbal Zulu

  • Muddle a few basil leaves before shaking
  • Add a splash of elderflower liqueur

This botanical beauty adds a sophisticated edge. Basil whispers of Italian gardens, while elderflower liqueur adds a sweet floral note. It’s the cocktail that decided to dress up for the evening.

In case you forgot basics how to make Zulu

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 Zulu

What type of rum would go well with this cocktail if I don't have white rum?

You can substitute white rum with dark or spiced rum. These variants will give the cocktail a deeper, more complex flavor.

Can I substitute the fruit juices with other flavors?

While the original recipe calls for orange and pineapple juice, you could use other tropical juices like mango or passionfruit. However, this may slightly alter the taste and appearance of the cocktail.

How can I make a non-alcoholic version of the Zulu Cocktail?

To make a non-alcoholic version, replace the rum with a non-alcoholic rum extract or some sparkling water for a little fizz.

What other garnish options can I use for this cocktail?

Other than the original garnish options, you can also try using kiwi slices or a sprig of mint for some added visual appeal and refreshing taste.

How else can I serve this cocktail if I don't have a tall glass?

You can also serve this in a hurricane glass or any other glass that's wide at the top and tapers down at the bottom. The key is to have enough space to nicely layer and present the different components of the cocktail.

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