The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Properly Sauced: The Zombie

By Rob Christopher in Food on Jul 8, 2009 6:20PM

2009_7_7zombie.jpg Summertime: living is easy, the fish are jumping, and it's time to sit back with a long cool one and get pleasantly hammered. We have just the thing.

Jeff Berry (aka Beachbum Berry) has spent years trying to find the recipe for the original Zombie, the most famous (and most potent) tropical tipple aside from the Mai Tai. In his book Sippin' Safari he devotes a whole chapter to the drink. Sometime back in the mid-thirties, Donn Beach (aka Don the Beachcomber) started serving a cocktail named Zombie Punch at his bar in Hollywood. Later the cocktail's name was shortened to the Zombie and became his most popular drink.

But no one knew quite what was in one. As with all his creations, Donn was excessively secretive about what went into them; his bartenders used coded recipes, mixing drinks using bottles of ingredients from which the original labels had been removed. And to this day there persists a host of imitators, some of which are blue and we urge you to avoid.

Berry came to the conclusion that Donn's original recipe, which Berry finally tracked down in a bartender's personal notepad, evolved over the years into several different versions. We tried three of the most authentic (yes, there's an app for that). While the original is indeed a thing of beauty it's also quite a laborious drink to make. Berry's adapted recipe is easier and tastes very similar. We warn you though, take it easy. After having only two of these we learned the literal meaning of "seeing double."

The Zombie

juice of 1 large lime
2 oz. white grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup (such as Torani)
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. overproof rum
2 oz. dark rum

Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled tiki mug or highball glass. Garnish with fruit and mint (umbrella optional).

By the way, the lovely tiki mug in the picture was made by Tiki Farm and is only available at Otto's Shrunken Head in New York City.