With a swing and muster that recalls Luc Sante's Low Life hoodlums, David A. Embury was a practicing lawyer in the 1940s when he wrote a book called The Fine Art Of Mixing Drinks. In it, he describes The Zombie as “the most overadvertised, overemphasized, overexalted, and foolishly feared drink whose claims to glory ever assaulted the eyes and ears of the gullible American public.”
Well that was back in '48 and certainly a number of grosser assaults have been made on us since. Be that as it may, The Zombie Cocktail has laid claims to zombify anyone that drinks it, i.e. turn the imbiber into a reanimated, dead, or mindless human being with no will of their own.
The Zombie Cocktail is thought to have originated with Don The Beachcomber of Hollywood, CA, who concocted it for a friend dropping by his restaurant before visiting San Francisco. The friend left after consuming three, and returned several days later to complain that he had been turned into a zombie for the duration of his entire trip.
Claims have made by several rum distilleries that they, in fact, invented the concoction and Charles Baker, Jr., the author of The Gentleman's Companion, Vol. 1 also lays claim invention.
In the latest edition of David Embury's book, a “Look At the Book” (a kind of forward) by Audrey Saunders is included. Saunders is L.A.'s newest classic cocktail bar import – fresh from The Pegu Club in New York City, she opened Tar Pit on La Brea a scant month ago and rumors rustle that the spot will be building on their Tiki menu. Certainly they have more than a few “Zombie glasses” at the ready if need be.
And at the altogether inimitable Tiki Ti on Sunset, The Zombie's ingredients are kept secret as the drink, like all of their drinks, are whipped up with lightening speed. But between the killing haze of cigarette smoke and deft blur of the bartender's jigger, we recognized a few of the ingredients listed below.
Makes: 1 drink
Adapted from David A. Embury's “The Fine Art Of Mixing Drinks”
“Twenty different bars serving this drink will probably put out eighteen to twenty different versions of it. In the main, however, each drink will be concocted approximately as follows.”
1 tsp. Sugar Syrup
1/2-3/4 oz. Lime Juice
3/4 oz. Fresh Pineapple Juice1
1 oz. White Label Rum
2 oz. Gold Label Rum2
1 oz. Jamaica Rum
2 tsp. Apricot Liqueur3
1/2-3/4 oz. mysterious ingredient4
1. Shake all ingredients together with crushed ice and pour into a Zombie glass*.
2. Float 1/2-1 tsp. 151-Proof Demerara Rum on top.
3. Decorate with orange, lemon, pink and green cherries, a pineapple stick and several springs of mint.
4. Sprinkle powdered sugar over all this.
*A Zombie glass is a tall, narrow glass. Also appropriate to use a Tiki glass – a ceramic, Polynesian mug with reliefs of trees, voodoo faces or naked women.
1. Falernum or orgeat may be substituted.
2. “Just for the sake of making it more complicated this may be changed to 1 oz. gold label rum and 1 oz. Barbados or Haitian rum.
3. “For the same reason this may be changed to 1 tsp. apricot and 1 tsp. cherry. Sometimes the liqueurs are used and sometimes brandies.
4. “This is usually papaya juice. Sometimes it is coconut juice. Sometimes – and preferably – this ingredient is omitted altogether.
“And there, brother, is your Zombie, grandfather of all pixies, and great-uncle to the gremlins.”