The Story Behind The Zombie

A quintessential tiki drink — combining three kinds of rum, two juices, apricot brandy, and tropical liqueurs and syrups — the Zombie is just the drink to bring you back to life.

According to tiki enthusiast Arnold Bitner, the Zombie was created in 1934 at Donn Beach’s Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Hollywood, known for being the first tiki bar. Rumor has it that the Zombie was concocted to aid a hung over customer who was on his way to a business meeting. Several days later, the customer returned, claiming the drink had turned him into “a zombie” for his entire trip. Subsequently, Beach’s restaurants would limit customers to only two Zombies per meal.

While Beach also claimed to have invented the classic Mai Tai, as tiki historian and mixologist Jeff Berry says, his invention of the Zombie is a great introduction to the complex and bombastic world of tiki cocktails. The Zombie is also no shrinking violet. It’s bold, refreshing, and currently one of the most popular cocktails on the planet. Take a look at the full list and see what other drinks made the cut.


  • 1 ounce light rum
  • 1 ounce dark rum
  • 1 ounce apricot brandy
  • 1/2 ounce falernum liqueur
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1/4 ounce Grenadine
  • 1/2 ounce overproof rum
  • Garnish: pineapple wedge, cocktail cherry


  1. Add all the ingredients except the overproof rum to a shaker with ice and shake.
  2. Strain into a Collins or highball glass with fresh ice.
  3. Float the overproof rum on top, then garnish with the pineapple and cherry.

Rate This Recipe:

(95 votes)

Yield: 1
Calories: 322
Updated: 2024-04-22

Listen To Our Cocktail College Zombie Podcast 
The Zombie Recipe

Zombie FAQ

How do you make a Zombie at home?

To make a Zombie at home, combine both light and dark rums, apricot brandy, falernum, freshly-squeezed lime juice, pineapple juice, and grenadine in a cocktail shaker. Shake, and strain the contents into a Collins or highball glass filled with ice. Top the cocktail with a float of overproof rum, and garnish with pineapple and cherry.

What types of rum do you need for a Zombie?

The Zombie recipe calls for three types of rum: light rum, dark rum, and overproof rum.

Why is it called a Zombie cocktail?

According to legend, the Zombie was named after the concoction was whipped up to aid a very hungover man on his way to a business meeting. When the same man returned to the bar, Donn Beach’s Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood, he claimed that the drink had turned him into a zombie for the remainder of his trip.