For week 3 of the Recipe Roundtable, our wheel of wonders stopped at the Zombie.
The Zombie is for sure a top 10 all time classic cocktail in our minds, maybe even top 5 and there are a few reasons to enjoy the Zombie.
First, it’s a recipe that seems like it shouldn’t work because of its high proportion of rum to other ingredients. Second, because of this ratio, it acts as a vehicle for delicious rum, much like a hot wing is a vehicle for delicious ranch. Third, despite the heaviness of the rum, this cocktail is extremely crushable and goes down incredibly smooth.
We’ll shamelessly use this section to plug our Zombie mix which was a 2021 San Francisco Spirits award silver medalist and a mix that we would honestly reach for over these recipes because it’s frankly delicious. That being said, would we use our mix with the split spirit base of the Oxacan Dead in the future?
This week we tried 4 zombie variations. The Blue Zombie from Modern Tiki remains true to form with a heavy pour of blended rum, but features a splash of blue curaçao. The Oxacan Dead is not only cleverly named, but features a surprisingly delicious and less boozy split base of rum and tequila. The Zombie from Jeff Berry 2014 remains true to form proportionally, but we weren’t sure about the use of the “blender” here and guess the recipe we found likely mistaken the blender for a milkshake mixer (or “milkshake blender” if we’re being picky) which would have made more sense. The last variation, the Zombie Punch is a low abv version, which at first seemed destined to fail since the proportions of the Zombie are mostly rum, but turned out to be absolutely delicious and a beautiful alternative for anyone looking for a low abv cocktail. We couldn’t quite feel right referring to this one as alcohol free given it is finished with a few dashes of bitters which technically contain alcohol.
Remember, our scoring metrics are simple. Each panelist gives a thumbs up or down on whether they would make this recipe again. 4 thumbs up means every panelist would make the recipe, not necessarily that the recipe is any better compared to the others. There are several reasons a panelist may not want to make the recipe again - personal preference, dislike of a specific ingredient, availability of ingredients etc.
Now, on to the recipes.
Recipe 1: Blue Zombie (from https://www.moderntiki.com/blue-zombie/)
1 ½ aged rum
1 ½ white Jamaican Rum
½ oz 151 proof rum
½ oz Blue curacao
¾ oz lime juice
¾ oz Velvet Falernum
½ oz spiced syrup
2 dashes Jamaican Bitters
For this recipe we used El Dorado 12, Brugal Anejo and Wrey and Nephew for the overproof rum but regret not using a darker overproof rum to preserve the color as the recipe suggests.
Either way the cocktail was tasty, simple to follow and a touch sweeter than the other cocktails sampled. The spent lime garnish was nice, but we went for the flaming sugar cube which is primetime.
2 thumbs up out of 4.
Recipe 2: Oxacan Dead (from https://imbibemagazine.com/recipe/oaxacan-dead/)
¾ oz reposado tequila (we used Hornito’s)
¾ oz aged Jamaican rum
¾ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz velvet falernum
½ oz Donn’s Mix
1 tsp mezcal
1 tsp grenadine
1 dash Angostura bitters
We found this recipe to be a really interesting flavor profile and a top notch variation on the Zombie. It tasted wildly different as a split base compared to the rum only original. Will we find ourselves mixing our Zombie with a split base in the future? Absolutely we will.
3 thumbs up out of 4.
Recipe 3: The Zombie (Jeff Berry 2014)
1 ½ oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum
1 ½ oz Aged Jamaican Rum
1 oz Lemon Hart 151 Proof Demerara Rum
¾ oz lime juice
½ oz Donn’s Mix
½ oz Falernum
The recipe calls for the ingredients to be placed in a blender and blended at high speed for not more than 5 seconds. We started with crushed ice in the blender which worked, but we prefer the Zombie to be packed with ice when poured into the glass. Our guess is the recipe meant to refer to a milkshake mixer, which is a common appliance on the modern tiki bar, opposed to the traditional blender. The panelists agreed, we’ve had better versions (including our own) that don’t require us cleaning the blender. Would we make this one again? Probably not.
0 thumbs up out of 4
Recipe 4: The Zombie Punch (Low ABV*) (https://feastinthyme.com/zombie-punch-mocktail/)
5 cups Grapefruit Juice
1 ¼ cup lime juice
1 ¼ cup spiced syrup
1 ¼ cup falernum syrup
¼ cup grenadine
1 dash Angostura bitters per glass
We were hesitant at a low ABV “Zombie” since the Zombie is a vehicle for delicious rum, but the results of this recipe were absolutely delicious. We are excited to use this mindset to play around with low or no ABV versions of our own Zombie in the summer for those moments when you want something lower or no ABV (which tends to happen after too many Zombies in swift succession). Maybe we didn’t give this recipe the credit it deserved, but each panelist was surprised at the tastiness and all agreed that they would make it again.
4 thumbs up out of 4.