I’ll put my home Mai Tai up against anyone, and I think my Ultimate Navy Grog is damn near perfect. But I bow to the master, Donn Beach, when it comes to the Zombie.
After trying several Zombies I made a 1934 Zombie with heavier Grenadine and 3 plus ounces of the Ultimate Mai Tai rum blend (Appleton 12, Smith & Cross, Xaymaca, OFTD). This should have been right up my alley but it wasn’t. I love this rum blend, but it doesn’t make the Zombie better. That Puerto Rican rum and the specific Demerara Overproof called for in the original recipe do make the difference.
Had a great time on Halloween. We had a little parade on our street and Mrs Mai Tai made goodie bags for the kids on the street and also dressed up in her T-Rex costume. Later I watched American Werewolf in London and then Zombieland: Double Tap. I like my horror to be mostly comedy, I guess.
The original is the best. That’s the conclusion at Ultimate Mai Tai Headquarters after trying out three other Zombies this month and then trying the 1934 recipe.
The subtle Cinnamon flavor and heavier rums make this a much more palatable cocktail. It’s like Jeff “Beachbum” Berry says, it’s really a magnified Planters Punch with a blend of rums and other kinds of sweeteners and spices.
¾ oz Lime juice
½ oz Don’s Mix
½ oz Falernum
¼ oz Grenadine
1½ oz Jamaican rum
1½ oz Puerto Rican rum
1 oz Demerara 151 proof rum
2 dashes absinthe
1 dash Angostura bitters
6 oz crushed ice
Flash blend for 5 seconds
Don’s Mix: 2 parts White Grapefruit juice and 1 part Cinnamon Syrup.
Glassware and coasters from last year’s Kickstarter by Will Penny.
Buy Sippin’ Safari by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry for the full story about the rediscovery of the 1934 Zombie recipe.
Continuing our theme for the week, I made the 1950 and 1956 Zombie cocktails. We can thank @official_beachbumberry for unearthing these old recipes, and if you haven’t memorized the Zombie chapter from The Bum’s seminal book Sippin’ Safari then you need to order that book right away (get the 10th anniversary edition). These lovely Beachbum Berry Zombie glasses make pairing these two cocktails a delight.
1 oz Lime juice
1 oz Lemon juice
1 oz Pineapple juice
1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1 oz White Puerto Rican rum
1 oz Gold Puerto Rican rum
1 oz Demerara 151 proof rum
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Dash Angostura bitters
Shake with ice
¾ oz Lime juice
½ oz Grapefruit juice
1½ oz Unsweetened Pineapple juice
¼ oz Falernum
¾ oz Maraschino Liqueur (only used ⅓ oz)
¼ tsp Grenadine
1¼ oz Gold Puerto Rican rum
1 oz Dark Jamaican rum
1 oz Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum
⅛ tsp Pernod/Absinthe
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
6 oz (¾ cup) crushed ice
You can see which rums and ingredients I used. Overall I thought that the 1956 Zombie tasted too much like the Maraschino Liqueur, even after I used only half the listed amount. I might drop it down to a teaspoon next time.
The 1950 Zombie was better received both by me and also by Mrs. Mai Tai, as we both felt it was easier to drink. But neither of us felt like either cocktail was something we’d go out of our way to order at a bar.
Tomorrow’s post… the 1934 Zombie.
I’m sure some of you reading this might be thinking, “1947 Zombie? Your year is incorrect.” Well, friends, it is correct and it is delicious.
Behold the Zombie recipe from Victor Bergeron’s 1947 Bartender’s Guide. Trader Vic didn’t have Don the Beachcomber’s secret recipe but his Zombie is no slouch. It is boozy but very easy to drink.
Zombie (Trader Vic’s)
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
½ oz Grenadine
1 oz Orange Curacao (Cointreau)
1 oz Jamaican Rum (Plantation Xaymaca)
2 oz Puerto Rican Rum (Bacardi 4)
½ oz 151 Proof Demerara Rum (Hamilton 151)
1 dash Pernod
Stir in mixing glass with large ice cube, then pour over shaved ice in a tall glass.
A few months ago I posed a question in a Facebook group to ask what were the seminal ingredients for a Zombie (in the same way that Orgeat is the seminal ingredient for a Mai Tai). I honestly did not get any sort of consensus answer, except for a mix of rums and maybe Cinnamon syrup. We also know that Grenadine is a key differentiator between the 1934 Zombie and a Jet Pilot.
All of which means that Trader Vic’s Zombie is probably not quite as spice-forward as those who love the 1934 Zombie are expecting. But it isn’t a terrible “guess” by Vic at what made the Don the Beachcomber Zombie world famous. The grenadine is there, along with Pernod/Herbsiant that often used in Don the Beachcomber cocktails. And, the rums are pretty much exactly as what Donn used in his various Zombie recipes.
Is it as good as a 1934 Zombie? Certainly not. But I’ll tell you that it is miles better than most Zombies I’ve had at good craft-oriented tiki bars.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. Happy Hulaween.
The glass is from last year’s kickstarter from Will Penny.