Cocktails Intoxica! Tiki

Zombie (Aku Aku Version)

The drink that started it all. Don the Beachcomber’s “Zombie.” Originally created in 1934, the “Zombie” features all of Donn’s characteristic alchemical convolution. So convoluted and occult, in fact that it spawned countless variations by bartenders attempting to re-create the magic of the original.

I initially tried all six variants featured in Beachbum Berry’s Intoxica! last year and settled on this updated version–by Donn himself, for the Aku-Aku Restaurant at the now defunct Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas–as my favourite. In re-visiting these recipes for the blog, I went back and tried the original 1934 version again to re-assess my feelings and I can confidently say that the Aku-Aku version, circa 1964, is by far my favourite of the bunch.

As someone who revels in nostalgia (obviously), my initial instinct is always to go back to the source. In this case however, the original was just a little rough around the edges for me. The blistering 4 oz of alcohol (including 1 oz of overproof rum) really overpowered the subtle interplay of flavours operating in the drink. In contrast, the toned down Aku-Aku version allowed the cornucopia of grapefruit, cinnamon, Angostura, falernum, and grenadine to shine. Perhaps, that imperceptible addition of curacao ties the room together. Who knows? The result is a drink that is palatable while still belonging to the provenance of the original.


3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz cinnamon simple syrup
3/4 dark Jamaican rum
3/4 gold rum (Puerto Rican)
3/4 overproof dark Demerara rum (Lemon Hart)
Dash of Angostura bitters
1/8 tsp Pernod
1/8 tsp orange Curacao
1/8 tsp falernum
1/8 tsp grenadine
6 ounces ice


  1. Pulse in a blender at high speed for 5 seconds. Garnish with mint leaves (actually super important).