How to Resurrect a Zombie

Have any zombies jumped on the hood of your car recently while you dutifully waited at a stoplight? Encounter any ashen-faced “undead” walking the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul or sipping a cocktail at a local watering hole? If you missed last week’s Zombie Pub Crawl or you are celebrating all things “zombie,” you can always tip back a drink in their pale-faced honor or plan ahead for the upcoming All Hallows Eve when zombies would seem to really shine.

Several years ago, as my husband and I strolled down the Nicollet Mall on our way to the (zombie-free) Dakota one mild October evening, we encountered zombie after zombie milling about. Being more of a mombie (mom + zombie = mombie) on a rare night out, I had no idea what was going. Luckily the ones we saw were rather mild-mannered undead, but what we didn’t know at the time was that over the next few years their numbers would keep growing until thousands appear on the special crawl night. There have been movies (Shaun of the Dead is evidently a must-watch for any serious zombie fan) and TV shows such as The Walking Dead keep the craze “alive.” So if you can’t beat ‘em (and those zombies are evidently really tough), join ‘em for a drink!

According to legend, venerable founding father of tiki restaurants, bars, and nightclubs Donn Beach (or Don the Beachcomber) first served this knockout in the 1930s to a particularly weary customer (by weary, meaning hungover), who said he felt like a zombie or “the living dead.”

Donn didn’t write down the recipe for this “restorative” cocktail of fruit juices, liqueurs, and various rums, and even reportedly provided code words for various ingredients to his bartenders at his venues in order to keep it secret. Since he passed away there have been too many Zombie recipes to easily count, but A.J. Rathbun, author of Dark Spirits and other cocktail books, believes this recipe, which appeared in Drinks magazine, gets the basics in and tastes good to boot (and is close, from what he’s heard, to the original). If you use bottled pineapple juice that is presweetened, then skip the syrup and double the pineapple juice. Also, you could sub in some fresh pineapple or even a star fruit slice for the garnish. It does have the 151 rum floating on it, but if that seems silly even for a silly-ish drink, he notes, feel free to omit. Even if you omit it, its smooth, fruity taste conceals its high alcohol content, so beware. Cheers!

How to Resurrect a Zombie

Ice cubes
1 oz. dark rum
1 oz. white rum
1 oz. gold or amber rum
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 oz. fresh pineapple juice
1/2 oz. apricot liqueur
1/2 oz. papaya juice (if you can’t get it, sub in passion fruit juice)
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1/2 oz. 151-proof rum (optional)
Lime wheel for garnish
Lemon wheel for garnish
Maraschino cherry for garnish
2 sprigs fresh mint for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Shuffle in the dark, white, and gold rums, lime juice, pineapple juice, apricot liqueur, papaya juice, and simple syrup. Shake unlike a zombie (meaning, shake well). Pour everything into a Zombie glass, large Collins glass, or other 14-ounce glass. If you wish, float the 151 rum on top of the drink. Garnish with the lime wheel, lemon wheel, cherry, and mint sprigs. Lightly sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar over the whole mess. Serve with a straw and a little groan.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.