The classic and highly potent Zombie cocktail was invented by Donn Beach in 1934 at his on Hollywood Boulevard bar, Don the Beachcomber.  Beach was the father figure of the Tiki bar movement, which fostered many South Pacific style venues springing up around the world, and still alive today in for example at Trader Vic’s.

Donn Beach in action

Donn Beach in action

It is said that this Tiki cocktail was created for a tired businessman who needed to get through a long meeting and a stiff drink was his favoured tactic. In actually the drink created with heavy punches of rum and fruit was so strong that the businessmen said it rendered him like a zombie for days! Hence the name.

The Zombie cocktail is a firm favourite at Old Havana, and quite a challenge to make at home, not least due to the range of ingredients, but well worth the effort.

The recipe we feature here is from the Educated Barfly and is true to Donn Beach’s 1934 original


1.5oz. (45ml) Gold Puerto Rico Rum
1.5oz. (45ml) Jamaica Rum
1oz. (30ml) Lemon Hart 151 Rum
.5oz. (15ml) Velvet Falernum
.5oz. (15ml) Don’s Mix
6 Drops Absinthe or Pastis
.75oz. (22.5ml) Lime Juice
1 tsp. Grenadine
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
Mint Sprig Garnish


Add all ingredients into an electric blender with 170 grams of cracked ice. With pulse bottom blend for a few seconds. Serve in a tall tumbler glass.


Don’s Mix is Donn Beach’s Super secret combination of Cinnamon Syrup and Grapefruit Juice. First, combine 250 grams White Sugar with 250 grams Warm Water. Add 3 sticks Ceylon Cinnamon and simmer for four minutes. Take off heat and let sit 24 hours after which strain out the solids. To make Don’s Mix simply add 2 Parts Grapefruit Juice to 1 Part Cinnamon Syrup.