Unlike the sours, slings, flips and smashes set down in the somewhat finessed worlds of American and European bar tending, Tiki drinks have a habit of evolving. I’m not sure if it’s the transition of a laid back lifestyle into the bar, the quality and availability of ingredients or just that tiki tradition seems to be more about scribbled notes than printed volumes, but I have seen upwards of 20 different recipes all claiming to be a Zombie.
A chap by the name of Patrick Duffy claims to have invented the beverage and certainly has the first version in print. His Zombie calls for Apple Brandy and launched a number of recipes that use fruit brandies, but I’ve found they tend to come out a bit sick sweet.
While there’s debate about who went first, Don the Beachcomber made this drink famous.
The Zombie, despite variations in print, is about just one thing – packing as many different rums into a beverage that remains palatable while delivering uncompromising alcoholic strength. Huzzah!
While Tiki has made a marked comeback in other parts of the world, it has been largely overlooked in Sydney, with only a few notable exceptions. Bacardi brand ambassador, Jeremy Shipley, has installed perhaps the city’s best bamboo shrine to the gods of tiki, unfortunately it is in the back of his house, rather than on public show in a bar. This snippet does point to the fact that Tiki is something that Sydneysiders will have to invest in and indulge themselves at home.
My recipe leans on Dr Cocktial’s recipe, with a couple of little additions of my own.
The juice of one whole lime, 30mls unsweetend pineapple juice, 15mls fresh Ruby Red Grapefruit juice, 15mls Falernum, 15mls passionfruit syrup, 30mls Ron Zacapa 23, 30mls Rum Shrub, 30mls Bacardi, 30mls Mount Gay XO, 5mls Absinthe, 4 dashes Angostura bitters, shake over ice and pour into a highball or tiki mug, half filled with crushed ice. garnish with a mint bush and plastic monkeys, if available.
I make my rum shrub by infusing the remnants of my anejo rums with dried orange peel, cinnamon, cardamon and vanilla. I store it in a dark cool place, and it hasn’t started fizzing yet. Clement have a nice product too.
And if you’re interested, this is the earliest Don the Beachcomber version:
Don the Beachcomber Zombie recipe
“Zombie Zowie, Hollywood Night Life Weird and Wonderful,” Winnipeg Free Press, Oct. 28, 1938
“The serving glass should be approximately 14 ounces and frosted. Into it is shaken one ounce of Demerara 150 proof rum, one ounce of heavy Jamaican rum, one ounce of Guadalupe rum and one ounce Porto Rican cartadora. To this is added one ounce of Falernum and one ounce of simple syrup, the juice of one whole Mexican lime and four dashes of bitters. Decorate with fruits in season, and mint.”
This one is pretty good too, and shows how the drink evolved:
Recipe from “Hawaii Tropical Rum Drinks & Cuisine by Don the Beachcomber” by Arnold Bitner & Phoebe Beach (2001)
- 3/4 oz Lime Juice
- 1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
- 1/2 oz Falernum
- 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
- 1-1/4 oz Ramirez Royal Superior – Puerto Rico*
- 1 oz Lemon Hart Demerara 151
- 1 oz Palau (30 years old) – Cuba*
- 1 oz Myers’s Planter’s Punch – Jamaica*
- 1 oz Treasure Cove (32 years old) – Jamaica*
- 2 dashes each Angostura bitters, Pernod
- 1 Dash Absinthe, Pernod
- 3 dashes Grenadine
- 3/4 oz Marashino Liquor