November 8, 2021
If you’re hosting a Halloween party or another spooky event, you need this zombie cocktail recipe. You don’t need to have a big party as an excuse to make this drink. We think that binge-watching your favorite zombie series or movies on the couch is as good a reason as any to curl up with one of these.
When you hear the words “zombie cocktail,” you may envision a radioactive green drink that tastes like Halloween candy, but this couldn’t be further from reality. The original zombie cocktail recipe was created by a famed tiki bartender back in the 1930s, way before Dawn of the Dead came on the scene.
Zombie cocktail ingredients include a list of traditional bar staples like rum, bitters, and simple syrup. Given the high alcohol content of this beverage, we’d venture to guess that the name refers to how you’ll feel after drinking one: a little like “the walking dead.”
How to make a zombie drink
Preparation time: 3 minutes
Cooking time: None
Total time: 3 minutes
- 1 ounce of light rum
- 1 ounce of spiced rum
- 1 ounce of dark rum
- 1 ounce of fresh lime juice
- 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice
- 1 ounce of pineapple juice
- 1 ounce of passion fruit syrup
- 3 dashes of orange bitters
- ½ ounce of grenadine
- ½ ounce of overproof 151 rum
- Fresh mint sprigs (for garnish)
- An orange slice (for garnish)
- Maraschino cherries (for garnish)
Pour all of the ingredients except for the mint sprigs into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake to combine. Strain the drink into a tall glass, like a highball or hurricane glass, over ice cubes. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Bartender’s tip: For an ombre effect, you can slowly pour in the grenadine and 151 rum after you’ve mixed up the rest of the drink and poured it into the cocktail glass. The grenadine will sink to the bottom and the overproof rum will float on the top. You can pour these two liquids over the back of a spoon to achieve a slow, controlled stream.
Recipe adapted from A Couple Cooks.
A simple swap: In this fruitier version of the zombie drink, you swap out the 1 ounce of spiced rum for one-half ounce of apricot brandy. Follow the rest of the instructions as described above with this one tiny change.
A Cuban zombie cocktail: This take on the zombie cocktail contains only Cuban rums. To make, use Havana Club 3-year and Havana Club 7-year or other Cuban rums of your choice to cover the rum component of the cocktail.
Creative fruit juices: Get your creative juices flowing,and make eccentric substitutions to the fruity flavors in this drink. Try using passionfruit, orange, or papaya juice or some mango nectar. You could even experiment with a funky blend, like passionfruit and papaya.
Zombie punch: When it comes to drinks inspired by the undead, there are two main varieties: the classic zombie cocktail described in the recipe above and zombie punch. Think of these two cocktails like zombie cousins, twice removed. Both contain rum, pineapple juice, and bitters, but the rest is quite different.
To make zombie punch, combine 1 teaspoon of cinnamon syrup, 2 teaspoons of grapefruit juice, 1 ½ ounces of gold Jamaican rum, 1 ½ ounces of gold Puerto Rican rum, 1 ounce of 151-proof rum, three-quarter ounces of fresh lime juice, one-half ounce of falernum (a Caribbean syrup), 1 dash of Angostura bitters, 6 drops of Pernod, and 1 teaspoon of grenadine in a blender. Liquify to combine. Then, add three-quarter cups of crushed ice and pulse the blender a few more times to achieve a slushy texture. Garnish with a mint sprig, a cocktail cherry, and a tiny umbrella.
What are bitters?
Bitters are the spice of life, or at least of cocktails. They are made from a “neutral spirit” base— a generic, flavorless alcohol often used for liqueurs and other infusions—and aromatics. “Aromatics” is the culinary term referring to spices, barks, roots, seeds, and dried fruits that are rich in flavor and scents. When activated through cooking or infusion processes, aromatics release their complex essences.
What is rum made from?
Rum comes from fermented sugarcane or molasses. Some varieties of rum are aged in oak barrels, which gives these spirits their caramel color. This is how many liquors—from whisky to tequila—get that rich brown tone. The longer alcohol is stored in a barrel, the darker the color of the liquid becomes.
Can I make this drink without a cocktail shaker?
Yes. You can make all shaken drinks without any specialized barware. One solution is to use a portable coffee mug or thermos. Because these receptacles have tight-fitting lids, you can shake up a cocktail in them without any spillage. Another option is to use an empty jar or other container as a shaker. As long as the container has a tight-fitting lid, you’re all set.
This weekend, queue up some zombie-themed movies, invite over a couple friends, and show off your bartending skills. Skip the trip to the liquor store and order instead from Gopuff. They can bring everything you need, from juice to rum, straight to your doorstep.