I have always had a thirst for knowledge, but after reading this intriguing story, I’m now thirsty for a tropical painkiller called “The Zombie!” Sit back while I tell you all about it.
Decades ago, in a town called Hollywood, Donn Beach – the father of tiki cocktail culture – invented an exotic drink called The Zombie. He called it “the mender of broken dreams” and protected the recipe fiercely. His staff didn’t even know what they were mixing because of his encrypted coding, they just knew there was a two drink limit. Why the limit? Because two Zombies was the alcohol equivalent of seven drinks!!! That’s a painkiller in my book!
This drink was a famous as Long Island Tea and other bars tried to replicate the recipe, but no one knew it’s secret. Now that has changed, thanks to the diligent research by Jeff “Beach Bum” Berry, who keeps the recipe – and others he found at Beach’s restaurant – alive.
Seven decades after it’s invention, Berry spent years researching and tracking down recipes and former Zombie slingers to reverse-engineer Beach’s drinks. The easygoing “tropical drink evangelist” has written four small books, which serve as amazing bar guides to the tiki culture that started in the ’30s. His book “Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari” (Club Tiki Press) was written in 2007 and features what he believes is the original recipe for The Zombie.
Mr. Berry honors the memory and genius of Donn Beach (Real name-Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt) by decoding the mystery he found in the little black book, which was not an easy task. He frequented a bar run by the son and grandson of the late Beach called Tiki-Ti on Sunset Blvd. in LA and would order specific cocktails and then reverse-engineer the ingredients. Soon, he learned much knowledge about the codes, including tidbits like an obscure ingredient called the “Golden Stack” was a brand of Jamaican rum, or that “Markeza” means passion fruit syrup.
He is such a trailblazer, he has gained the utmost respect in the cocktail world and has been dubbed “the Indiana Jones of tiki drinks.” It took him a year to properly decode the Zombie and now that he has, you can try one at the tiki bar he opened in 2014 in New Orleans called Latitude 29. If you go, however, be careful! Mr. Berry claims they are only slightly less lethal than the original.
I simply can’t wait to get there!