The Zombie Cocktail

Zombie Cocktail Recipe

The Spruce

    • Total: 3 mins
    • Prep: 3 mins
    • Cook: 0 mins
    • Yield: 1 serving

The Zombie is a popular tiki cocktail. It is filled with rum and fruits and is known to be one of the most powerful cocktails you can make. The only problem is that no one can agree how to make it!

Two of the more popular recipes are below. Whichever you choose, it will be a great drink for a relaxing happy hour, tropical summer drink, or a haunting Halloween party cocktail. There is also a classic tiki cocktail called Zombie Punch, also attributed to Don.


    • For the Zombie Cocktail
    • 1 ounce light rum
    • 1 ounce dark rum
    • 1 ounce orange curacao liqueur
    • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
    • 1/2 ounce lime juice
    • 1 1/2 ounces orange juice
    • 1 1/2 ounces passion fruit puree (or syrup)
    • 1/4 ounce grenadine
    • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
    • Optional: 1/2 ounce 151-proof dark rum
    • Garnish: sprig of mint and seasonal fruits
    • For the Gary (Gaz) Regan’s Zombie No. 2
    • 1 ounce dark rum
    • 1 1/2 ounces anejo rum
    • 1 1/2 ounces light rum
    • 3/4 ounce applejack
    • 3/4 ounce papaya nectar
    • 3/4 ounce pineapple juice
    • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
    • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

Steps to Make It

This first recipe comes from Dale DeGroff’s book, “The Craft of the Cocktail.”

Gather the ingredients.

Zombie Cocktail recipe

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.

Zombie Cocktail recipe

Shake well.

Zombie Cocktail recipe

Strain into a large glass with ice.

Zombie Cocktail recipe

  1. Optionally, float the high-proof rum on top of the finished drink.
  2. Garnish with mint and fruit.

Zombie Cocktail recipe

Serve and enjoy!

Gary (Gaz) Regan’s Zombie No. 2

Regan includes two Zombie recipes in The Joy of Mixology. This is the second and he notes that it was adapted from Jeff Berry’s Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log (2003).

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.

Zombie Cocktail recipe

Shake well.

Zombie Cocktail recipe

Strain into a large glass with ice.

Zombie Cocktail recipe

Top with a float of 1/2 ounce 151-proof rum.

Zombie Cocktail recipe

Garnish with a maraschino cherry, pineapple spear, and mint sprig.

Zombie Cocktail recipe

Serve and enjoy!


    • The ice and glassware are yet another point of contention with the Zombie. Some recipes clearly indicate crushed ice while others simply say ‘ice-filled glass’ and others mention no ice. Personally, I think ice is necessary and would never skip it.
    • The Zombie is always served in a tall glass. There is a specific glass called the ‘zombie glass’ and this is nothing more than a 12-ounce version of the average highball or Collins glasses. Though, if you’re looking for a more tropical look or feel, serve it in a hurricane glass.
    • For floating, we recommend that you use the back of a bar spoon. You can use a regular spoon, if that’s all you have on hand, however, since the bar spoon is thinner, it can fit into most glasses. Also, since it has a longer handle, it will help you balance the pour better.

The Zombie’s History

The mystery of the boozy Zombie cocktail began in the first days of the tiki scene. This was a time when two of the leaders of these new tropical-themed bars were in fierce competition. It is no secret that Don the Beachcomber and Victor Bergeron (of Trader Vic’s fame) kept their recipes tightly guarded, even encrypting their bar stock with top-secret codes.

It is believed that Don created the Zombie around 1934. Gary Regan notes in “The Joy of Mixology” that it was first served at the Hurricane Bar at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.

This secrecy may have been great for business at the time, but it poses a problem for modern bartenders who want to recreate the famous recipes. Imagine trying to pinpoint every fruit and the precise amount of rum poured into a cocktail that can have 9 ingredients or more!

That leaves us with many recipes for the same drink. In every case, it is complex and you best have a well-stocked bar if you want to take on any of them.

Here is what we do know about the Zombie cocktail:

    • Rum, and lots of it! The list always includes a light and dark rum, some add a third (typically 151-proof rum).
    • Fruit juice. Passionfruit seems to be the key to a great Zombie, but from there it could be orange, pineapple and/or papaya.

How Strong Is the Zombie Cocktail?

The Zombie is a rum-filled, notoriously boozy drink, but how strong is it? The Zombie recipe you choose is going to make a world of difference!

Let’s just assume that the primary rums are all 80-proof, the curacao and applejack are 60-proof, and we include the 151-proof rum float. In this instance, these two recipes would add up to:

    • DeGroff’s Zombie: 18 percent ABV (36 proof)
    • Regan’s Zombie No. 2: 25 percent ABV (50 proof)

The difference is significant because Regan’s recipe uses a full 4 ounces of the first three rums along with the applejack. DeGroff’s recipe uses just 3 1/2 ounces of liquor total.