Zombie Cocktail Recipe

A punchy tiki cocktail strong enough to wake the dead. Learn how to make the Zombie Cocktail Recipe with our award winning bartenders.
The Zombie Cocktail Recipe served in a hi-ball glass with a mint sprig and orange slice for garnish







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Though the name may conjure up images of The Walking Dead or Halloween, the Zombie was actually invented in the Hollywood tiki beach bar Don the Beachcomber in 1934.

The famed bartender who gave his name to his bar allegedly mixed up the cocktail to help a hungover customer who has a business meeting coming up.

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According to legend it didn’t go so well, with the customer coming back just days later to complain that he’d been turned into a zombie for the entire trip. Maybe “hair of the dog” ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.

The drink is certainly potent, so caution is advised. Back at Don the Beachcomber, guests were originally limited to two servings of the Zombie cocktail per session, due to its strength.

The fruit flavours certainly mask the alcohol content, but we’d advise using premium rums to reduce the risk of a sore head in the morning.

Tiki cocktail culture plays a significant part in the history of cocktails. After World War I, Don the Beachcomber (originally called Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt) kicked off the trend for Polynesian inspired drinks.

He claimed to have travelled the South Pacific in his younger years but was also known for telling tall tales, so it’s not known if this is true.

Regardless, his restaurant became the place to be in Hollywood, with stars such as Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, and Vivien Leigh supposedly frequenting the bar.

Variations of the Zombie Cocktail Recipe

The recipe for the Zombie cocktail was kept secret by Don the Beachcomber. Bartenders were given coded hints to certain ingredients, and the original recipe had three types of rum, along with a secret syrup mix.

Don was perhaps right to be secretive. His rival Trader Vic, inventor of the Mai Tai, put a version of the Zombie cocktail recipe in his 1947 Bartender’s Guide, and the drink continued to pop up at competitor’s bars.

Which is the best Zombie Cocktail Glass to use?

The Zombie cocktail recipe served in a Hurricane Glass with a mint and orange slice garnish

It’s unknown which glass Don the Beachcomber first used when presenting the first Zombie cocktail to that hungover customer.

It’s likely not to be the glass skull mug which has become associated with the Zombie recipe in later years.

In fact, the Zombie is classically served in its own glass: The Zombie Glass.

This is tall and thin, like a Hi-Ball or Collins glass but taller. The extra height accentuates the colours in the drink.

However, for the home bartender, a standard high ball is fine. We’ve also seen the Zombie served in a Hurricane glass, which links the drink to its tiki heritage.



25ml Dark Rum
25ml Golden Rum
25ml Triple Sec
15ml Lime Juice
40ml Orange Juice
25ml Passionfruit Puree
7.5ml Grenadine
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters


Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.

Add ice to the mix and then shake well for 30 seconds until the drink is ice cold.

Strain using a Hawthorn strainer into a Collins or Hi-Ball glass


Mint Sprig & Orange Slice


For a killer garnish with additional theatre, hollow out half a lime and pour in a little rum.

Place in the middle of your drink and light with a match for the ultimate Zombie garnish.

PLEASE NOTE – be careful and ensure to blow out the lime and let it cool before drinking!


It’s well worth sampling a Mai Tai cocktail as the mix of rum and lime juice along with Orange Curacao creates a similar cocktail taste to the Zombie cocktail recipe.

Other tiki cocktails such as the Rum Runner or the Fog Cutter shouldn’t be forgotten either.

Or if you’re trying the Zombie as part of Halloween celebrations check out our run down of the best Halloween cocktails.

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