Cocktails Recipes Rum Tiki

Making Zombies for Your Halloween Party

The Walking DeadIf you’re throwing (or attending) a Halloween party this year, the Zombie is the perfect drink to serve. It has an appropriately creepy name, it’s delicious, it’s out of the ordinary and thus memorable, and it’s a fun drink for people to enjoy.

The difficult part to serving Zombies in a party setting is that they require several ingredients and take some time to make. But you can streamline the process and make it a lot easier on yourself by doing some pre-mixing.

I tended bar at my sister-in-law’s wedding rehearsal dinner last week, and I tried this method out. It worked perfectly, and the Zombies were a big hit.

The key is that you pre-mix most of the ingredients beforehand. I did mine a few days before, but you could do it right before the party instead. Whatever works best for your timeline.

Party Zombies

Yield: Makes 11 cocktails


  • Zombie Pre-Mix
  • 6 oz. Coruba, Myers's or Appleton Estate Dark Rum
  • 6 oz. Cruzan or Flor de Cana Gold Rum
  • 6 oz. 151-proof Rum (Lemon Hart, if possible)
  • 3 oz. Falernum
  • 1 oz. Grenadine
  • 3/4 tsp. Herbsaint/Absinthe
  • 8 Dashes Angostura Bitters

  • Party Zombies
  • 2 oz. Zombie Pre-Mix
  • 1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Don's Mix


    To make the Zombie Pre-Mix:
  1. Add all ingredients (use a funnel) to a clean, empty 750ml bottle.
  2. Shake to combine.
  3. To make the cocktails:
  4. Once you've got your Pre-Mix made, assembling the actual cocktails at the party will be easy.
  5. Shake the ingredients with ice, then pour unstrained into a glass.

If you’d like to make your Zombies sweeter, you can add some simple syrup to the Pre-Mix. I’d start with an ounce and go from there.

For the Don’s Mix, I used B.G. Reynolds’ syrup. But you can also make your own — ahead of time, of course — by combining two parts white grapefruit juice with one part cinnamon syrup.

I know it’s a hassle, but you’ll want to squeeze limes for fresh juice. Lime juice has a very short shelf life — it starts to oxidize and change flavor almost immediately. So do it as close to when you’ll be serving as possible.

If you want to do this as a punch version, you could mix all the ingredients together right before the party and serve it in a big bowl or pitcher. If you’re going to go that route, however, you’ll need to do it shortly before you serve, and even then the flavor won’t be as good. But sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

Whatever route you choose, don’t go for the tired old shots and Screwdrivers for your Halloween party. With just a little extra effort, your drink service can be a lot more fun — and your guests can really have a haunting good time.

Amaro History Ingredients Recipes

Whatever Happened to Amer Picon?

If you’re a casual drinker, you’ve probably never even heard of Amer Picon — which is probably a good thing, since it’s not available anymore, and thus you don’t know what you’re missing. But if you’re an experienced imbiber, bartender or Basque, you probably know Amer Picon. And to know it is to miss it, since it’s all but impossible to acquire.

Amer Picon is a bitter-sweet French aperitif. (“Amer” is the French version of the Italian “Amaro,” which translates as “bitter.”) It is sometime drank before a meal to stimulate the appetitite, but more often it’s mixed in cocktails, most notably the Picon Punch (the “National Drink of the Basques”) and the Brooklyn Cocktail.

Amer Picon was invented by a Frenchman named Gaétan Picon in 1837, and produced by the company he started, the House of Picon. The aperitif starts with dried orange peels that are macerated (soaked) in alcohol and then distilled. (This basically creates a flavored vodka.) The distillate is then infused with gentian root and quinquina (to add bitterness), and topped off with sugar (for sweetness) and caramel (for coloring).

The Picon brand was purchased by one of the predecessor companies of the British drinks conglomerate Diageo years ago. It is no longer produced in its original form, although two replacements — Amer Picon Club and Amer Picon Biere — are supposedly available in France. No version of it has been exported to the United States in at least a couple of decades.

To deepen the pain even further, the recipe of Amer Picon was changed sometime in the 1970’s, and its proof was lowered steadily from 52 to 42 to 36, cutting its alcohol content by over half. (The original version made by Gaétan Picon was much stronger, coming in at 78 proof.) So even if you can find a bottle from the last 30 years, it won’t be the good stuff. But if you do find a bottle, please send it to me anyway.

Torani Amer is the substitute for Amer Picon that is used most often. As far as I can tell, it’s only distributed in California, where it’s cheap and easy to find. Or it can be ordered online. Those who know more than I say that the Torani version is a shadow of the real stuff, with far less complexity and orange flavor. It does, however, restore the spirit to its original strength of 78 proof.

Some bartenders, most notably the great Jamie Boudreau of Canon in Seattle, have created recipes of their own to try to duplicate the flavor of the original Amer Picon. Amer Boudreau (Jamie’s version) is relatively easy to make, although it does take some time due to the infusion process. I’ve made some and it really is worth the effort. I think the flavor is clearly superior to that of Torani Amer.

However, if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own, Torani does fill in well enough. It would be a shame not to enjoy such a great drink as the Picon Punch for want of the key ingredient.

Picon PunchPicon Punch

2 1/2 oz. Amer Picon (sub Torani Amer or Amer Boudreau)
1 tsp. Grenadine
1-2 oz. Club Soda
1/2 oz. Brandy

Build in a highball or collins glass filled with ice. Add Amer Picon and grenadine, then give a quick stir. Top with club soda, then the brandy float. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Topa! (That’s the traditional Basque toast.)


Excerpt from “Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde”

If you’re interested in taking a peek at Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde: Recipes for the World’s Most Lethal Drink before you buy it, now you can!

I uploaded a PDF excerpt of the book to Goodreads. (Here’s the link to my author page.) But you should be able to download the file without even going to the website.

Just click here: Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde excerpt.

The preview gives the Table of Contents, so you can see which drinks are included, and also includes the first three entries in the book.

Note that not all of the recipes in the book are as complicated as the Don the Beachcomber original. There are several that you can make without having to hunt for ingredients.

If you enjoy what you see, you know what to do!

Zombie horde cover thumb