Warnings of a pending zombie apocalypse received some serious validation this week as the Centers For Disease Control made a call for preparedness for such an event on its blog. But while Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan offered some solid pointers for surviving an onslaught of the undead, he missed one vital recommendation – don’t give up living. And what better way to ride out continued attacks by hordes of creatures intent on nothing more than devouring your brains and entrails than relaxing with a stiff drink?
Of course, there's no more appropriate cocktail for forgetting your troubles in the face of a zombie incursion than the Zombie. Developed in the 1930s by Donn “The Beachcomber” Beach and popularized at the Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Hollywood, CA and the Hurricane Bar at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, the Zombie gets its name from its apparent effect on the drinker. It's no wonder, the original recipe for the Zombie contains 7.5 ounces of alcohol in each glass. Most modern cocktails have about 2 ounces per drink, making each Zombie the equivalent of guzzling three Manhattans or Martinis. With that much booze in anyone's system they won't care that the undead are massing at the windows attempting to gain entry.
Like most Tiki-style drinks, the massive quantities of alcohol are hidden beneath a complicated mixture of sweet juices and a little spice, depending on the recipe you're following. As in the secret labs where serums used to turn unsuspecting citizens into zombie hordes slavering for tender brains, Donn Beach has kept his ingredients close to the vest. As a result, there are a wide range of recipes purporting to be the “original.” The best all share a few things in common – a rich tropical sweetness that'd be cloying if it wasn't for the warmth of the alcohol, a gentle spice, usually from dark and golden rum, and a veritable fruit salad garnishing the drink. Even better, a float of 151-proof rum generally tops them off, allowing adventurous bartenders to light it up and serve a flaming Tiki libation that also doubles as a zombie-killing molotov-esque cocktail in a pinch.
The recipe isn't an easy one, and it requires fairly deep rum reserves, but if you were stocking up in advance of the unholy onslaught sure to greet us when the dead walk again you should have plenty to spare.
1/2 ounce white rum
1 1/2 ounces golden rum (Appleton is one of the most reliable brands to use here, bringing a nice balance of sweet and spice without being overbearing)
1 ounce dark rum (The Lash adds a great slug of ginger and molasses to the mix, balancing the tang of the citrus)
1/2 ounce 151-proof rum (Bacardi 151 is generally the go-to bottle here, but any over-proof rum will do since the heat of the alcohol tends to drown out any nuance)
1 ounce lime juice
1 teaspoon pineapple juice
1 teaspoon papaya juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
Stir all of the ingredients together, except the over-proof rum, and pour into a tall glass filled most of the way with ice. Then take a spoon and submerge it just to the brim and slowly pour the 151 into the bowl of the spoon to float the rum on top. Then simply light that beast for dramatic effect, or self-defense, as needed. After a couple of these, the end of the world as we know it won't seem nearly as bad.
But maybe the Zombie hits a little too close to home. Perhaps drinking a zombie brings back unpleasant memories of dismembered family members, pets and neighbors. Because hope, along with a trusty shotgun, military training and plenty of canned food, is your best ally in an epidemic of the ambulatory undead, so it can't hurt to make your cocktail of choice one so strong it's reputed to bring the dead back to the land of the living – the Corpse Reviver.
The Corpse Reviver is another drink from the 1930s that has a wide range of recipes. The key difference here is that the Corpse Reviver genre is well catalogued, with Corpse Reviver #2 being a favorite mix. In fact, the Corpse Reviver #2 achieved a mini-renaissance in the last year or so as people rediscovered the drink and its revivifying capabilities. And even if you don't find it able to bring beloved relatives back from beyond the pale, the bracing combination of gin, absinthe, Cointreau, lillet blanc and lemon bring a subtle sweetness balanced by the tart citrus and anise flavors. It's a classic for a reason, and it'd be tough to go wrong toasting the undead revolution with one or more of these.
The Corpse Reviver #2
3/4 ounce Gin (use a bold gin here to stand up to the other flavors – Bulldog is a great fit)
3/4 ounce Cointreau (in a pinch a good triple sec or other orange liqueur will do)
3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc (there truly isn't a good substitute here)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Absinthe (Nouvelle Orleans, while pricey, is the perfect bottle for the Corpse Reviver, adding just the right herbal notes as a counterpoint)
Fill a shaker with ice and pour all of the ingredients in. Shake hard and fast until frost appears on the shaker if you can. Then strain into a cocktail glass and kick back until the end of the world. With the roving hordes of flesh-devouring undead wandering the countryside, it shouldn't be that long.