The Flaming Zombie, as the name suggests, is not a cocktail to be trifled with, this potent rum-punch consists of four different rums, apricot brandy, grenadine and pineapple, grapefruit and lime juice. The combination of tropical fruit, tangy lime and sweet grenadine work together to cleverly soften the blow of all that rum and make a cocktail that’s alarmingly easy to drink.
White Rum, Dark Rum, Gold Rum, Apricot Brandy, Pineapple Juice, Pink Grapefruit Juice, Lime Juice, Grenadine, Overproof Rum.
*premium glassware pictured, event glassware may differ.
The Flaming Zombie, or simply the Zombie, is a classic tiki drink, and a fantastic inclusion on any tiki style or rum-based menu.
Originally created by Donn Beach, AKA Don The Beachcomber for his Hollywood Don The Beachcomber Restaurant, this cocktail calls for at least 3 different rums, falernum, bitters and various fruit juices.
Donn Beach was famously protective of his recipes and it’s only recently that the original formula has been decoded and published in Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry’s Sippin Safari cocktail book. This cocktail packs a serious punch, with 4 different rums including overproof (rum that is over 50% ABV) stealthily hidden beneath tropical fruit juice, the Zombie is dangerously easy to drink. Because of its potency, Don The Beachcomber restaurants limit their customers to two per sitting as do many other bars.
Because of the strength of this cocktail, it would probably be a good idea to serve it alongside some lower ABV options, if you wanted to stick with the tiki theme, something like a Pina Colada or an Eastern Sour could be a good low alcohol option to go alongside it. The Eastern Sour uses whiskey in place of tiki drinks’ usual spirit of choice, rum, this makes it a great alternative to rum cocktails when designing a tiki-style menu.
The ‘Flaming’ part of this drink comes from adding the overproof rum to an inverted lime-half, balancing it on top of the cocktail, and setting it alight. This is a great bit of theatre and would be sure to impress your guests but if this presents a health and safety issue, the flaming can be left out and the cocktail still tastes great.
Be aware that if you plan on featuring a Flaming Zombie on your menu, this drink does require quite a lot of time to make, you may want to think about serving some quicker, less complex cocktails with it to help regulate the speed of service. Some other great rum drinks that are faster to make include the Dark and Stormy and the Daiquiri.
If you’re interested in featuring a Zombie on your cocktail menu and want to know more about what drinks could be served alongside it be sure to speak to your event organiser about your options, or check out some other rum-based, fruit flavoured and tiki-style cocktails from our list.
The original Zombie was famously created by Donn Beach for his Donn the Beachcomber chain of restaurants in 1934. Legend has it that Donn created the drink for a man who needed help curing a hangover before a business meeting, the customer allegedly returned to Donn’s bar a few days later complaining that the drink had turned him into a ‘zombie’ for the entirety of his trip.
Donn the Beachcomber along with many other bars and restaurants that now serve the drink, limit their customers to two per person, and Donn described the drink as being able to make one “like the walking dead.”
In 1939 at the World’s Fair in New York an imitation of the Zombie was presented by a man named Monte Proser, who claimed to have invented the cocktail. Donn the Beachcomber however, was famously protective of his recipes and Proser’s imitation bared little resemblance to the original.
Myths & Legends
Whether or not the story of man ordering the drink and subsequently becoming so drunk it turned him into a zombie is true, we aren’t sure. But it’s a story that’s been passed down through generations of bartenders and one that adds even more intrigue and mythology to this already exciting tiki drink.
Perhaps the most accurate recipe for a Zombie, or at least the one that adheres most closely to Donn Beach’s original, is that printed in Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry’s Sippin’ Safari. Berry interviewed various bartenders and patrons from the golden age of tiki drinks to try and discover the secret formulas that made up the original drinks on Donn the Beachcomber’s and Trader Vic’s menus.
Ingredients & Equipment
- 75ml Rum Blend (1:1:1 Dark Rum:Gold Rum:White Rum)
- 25ml Apricot Brandy
- 25ml Pineapple Juice
- 25ml Grapefruit Juice
- 25ml Lime Juice
- 12.5ml Grenadine
- 2-3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
- 25ml Overproof Rum (Garnish)
- Squeezed Lime-Half for Garnish
- Powdered Cinnamon for Garnish
- Hawthorne Strainer
- Mexican Elbow
- Cinnamon Shaker
- Tiki Mug
- Cubed Ice
- Take your Boston glass or small tin
- Using your jigger to measure, add the rum blend, apricot brandy, grenadine, pineapple and grapefruit juice to the shaker
- Using your Mexican elbow and you jigger to measure, squeeze 25ml of lime juice and add it to the shaker
- Reserve one squeezed lime-half for garnish
- Add 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters to the shaker
- Fill your shaker with cubed ice and seal with the Boston tin or lid
- Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds, or until your tin is very cold
- Use your Hawthorne strainer to strain your cocktail into your tiki mug, before adding ice
- Fill your tiki-mug with cubed ice
- Hollow out your squeezed lime-half to make a bowl and balance it on top of your cocktail
- Fill the lime half with overproof rum, and use a match to light it
- Shake some cinnamon over the flame to create sparks
- Blow out the flaming rum and carefully pour it into the drink
- Finish with a straw
- Serve and enjoy!
For larger groups of six or more students, we offer the option to take things private. Our classes are fully portable, and we are able to set ourselves up efficiently and professionally in a wide variety of locations and settings across the capital, the UK, and beyond. You name the location, and we’ll endeavour to make it happen.
Give one of our dedicated event organisers a call on 020 8003 7982. They’ll happily talk you through your options, and answer any questions you may have about both our mobile and in-house cocktail making classes.