Has it really been 10 years? For a humble blog focused on Tiki culture and cocktails, that’s an eternity. After a decade of existence, we continue to be humbled by the recognition and continued support from peers and supporters. Even so, we hope that the best is yet to come.
Special 10th anniversary recipe: Revenge of the Atomic Zombie Cocktail
The Atomic Grog launched in late April 2011 with coverage of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s “Zombie Jamboree” at The Mai-Kai, our participation in the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival’s deadly cocktail competition, our first published cocktail recipe, and lots more …
We be Jammin: Rum Renaissance Zombie fest at The Mai-Kai
The kickoff party for the 2011 Rum Renaissance Festival was a Tikiphile’s dream, featuring a Jeff “Beachbum” Berry cocktail seminar followed by a deadly mixology competition.
Recipe: Wake the dead, it’s time for the Atomic Zombie Cocktail
Now, 447 posts and more than 1 million page views later, it’s time to take a quick look back and offer a big mahalo to everyone and everything that has kept us motivated and writing. That includes all the folks who posted more than 600 comments on the site, overwhelmingly positive and informative.
The first post – on April 25, 2011 – was a Zombie recipe, so it’s fitting that we celebrate the 10th anniversary of this never-say-die blog with a horde of Zombies. While the Mai Tai seems to get all the attention, 10 years later we still maintain that Tiki’s original masterpiece, created by Don the Beachcomber in the 1930s, is the most epochal tropical cocktail. Perhaps it’s apropos that the Zombie never becomes trendy and stays “underground,” but we’d like to see it get more attention.
So in honor of our 10th anniversary, we’ll be posting 10 new Zombie recipes over the next 10 months. We’ve already kicked it off with the Hamilton Zombie, featured in the recent story on the new Zombie blend from Beachbum Berry and Hamilton Rum. It continues today with a reimagining of that first recipe. Get ready for Revenge of the Atomic Zombie Cocktail, even richer and more deadly than the original.
As usual, you’ll be treated to the recipe at the end of this post. Look for new Zombie recipes approximately every month, pushing the envelope of this classic template but remaining true to Donn’s inventive spirit. Unlike the Mai Tai, there’s no controversy in tinkering with the Zombie. We hope to prove this makes it even more enduring and classic. Lots more Zombie lore and discussion to come.
We’re digging up another popular old concept for our 10th birthday: The good old-fashioned Top 10 list. It may be a cliché of the blogosphere and something we’ve avoided for a decade, but there’s nothing wrong with a carefully crafted Top 10. We’ll start with five in this post, with more “Tiki Top 10” lists to come over the next 10 months (and maybe continuing into the future) …
TIKI TOP 10: The people, places and things most crucial to the success of The Atomic Grog
10 – The Palm Beach Post – My day job is rarely mentioned, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t tip my hat to the newspaper that has kept me employed for the better part of the past four decades. I strongly urge everyone to support local journalism in their community, a crucial cog in our democracy,
9 – The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications – Sure, UF is where I really learned how to party, but I’m also proud to be a graduate of one of the country’s best “J-schools.”
8 – My mother and father – Of course, I wouldn’t be here without them. But they also always encouraged me to explore all my creative outlets, the end result being what you’re reading now. In my youth, my dad was also a custom car show promoter, and I was exposed early to the wonders of modern/lowbrow art and Polynesian restaurants.
7 – My mid-century upbringing – As a child of the ’60s, I like to think I have a firsthand appreciation and enthusiasm for Polynesian Pop and Tiki culture. I can clearly remember the style and design of the era as a child, though admittedly through innocent eyes.
6 – Don the Beachcomber – Where would we be without Donn Beach? Not talking Tiki, that’s for sure. The man who started it all in 1933 deserves all the credit, and thanks for those incredible cocktails that we still enjoy today.
5 – Sven Kirsten and Tim “Swanky” Glazner – Mid-century Tiki culture may have disappeared if not for some key enthusiasts who took their passion to the next level. Among our biggest influences are these two authors who documented the era better than anyone. And they’re nowhere near finished. I can’t wait to see (and write about) their exciting new projects.
4 – The Hukilau – My Tiki worldview was greatly expanded when I joined forces with the East Coast’s largest Poly Pop event in 2008. In the ensuring years, I’ve been privileged to meet and become friends with dozens of the most talented movers and shakers from around the world every year.
3 – Jeff “Beachbum” Berry – Writing and drinking had always been separate pursuits until I met “the Bum,” whose books and symposiums proved to me that combining them into a coherent blog made a whole lot of sense. Coherence is the key, and Berry took cocktail writing and Tiki history to the next level, for which many of us will be forever grateful. While his book releases have slowed, you can find the fruits of his labor at Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 in New Orleans.
2 – The Mai-Kai – I consider myself lucky to live so close to this historic landmark and icon of Tiki culture. The spectacular restaurant and its cocktails have inspired much of what you see on this blog, but it’s much more than that. It’s a very special place for many reasons. I was married there and have spent countless anniversaries, birthdays, et al., in its environs. We all hope to be back in our happy place soon. You’ll be the first to know when we hear any news.
1 – My wife Susan, aka Mrs. Hurricane – My inspiration and soul mate, but more important (for the blog), my editor and sounding board for all my crazy ideas.
10 YEARS OF GROGGY MEMORIES
We’d love to celebrate our anniversary with a party at The Mai-Kai, but sadly that can’t happen right now. Our last anniversary bash was the Fifth of Grog in 2016, which took place The Moloklai bar and also marked our last proper retrospective on the blog.
In keeping with the theme, we’re stretching this anniversary out over 10 months (COVID style) in the hopes that that a real-life party might be possible sooner or later. In the meantime, look for yours truly to make a few appearances on some of the regular online Tiki and cocktail events. We’re set for a guest slot on Tiki Trail Live on June 29.
Before more months start slipping away, let’s take a look back at some of the past decade’s highlights. On our fifth anniversary, we tipped our hat to many of the people, places, and things that inspired us. In the years since, we feel lucky to have reached a level of maturity many blogs don’t achieve. Or, perhaps, we’re just getting old. Either way, here are a few of our best memories:
Taking to the stage and airwaves: Over the years, we’ve expanded the scope of The Atomic Grog to include symposiums and cocktail classes, podcasts and online appearances, plus more. The first presentation (The Menus of The Mai-Kai: 60 Years of Tiki Cocktail History) on the main stage at The Mai-Kai was both thrilling and nerve-wracking. Luckily, I pulled out a win in the blind-tasting competition at the end of the event at The Hukilau 2017. We returned to the Tiki weekender in 2018 and 2019 with sold-out Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy classes (How to Mix Like The Mai-Kai and The Rums of The Mai-Kai), the latter also featuring rum historian and collector Steve Remsberg. The next day, author and blogger Matt Pietrek (aka Cocktail Wonk) joined us for an on-stage presentation, followed by an exclusive tour of The Mai-Kai’s back bar. Check out JimHayward.com for links to more highlights of past events.
A spiffy new look: They happened independently, but both our home bar and the website received much-needed redesigns in recent years. The bar came first, thanks to a nice find by our friends and vintage furniture fans Jimmy Stingray and Andrea Swenson. They found a great display case for the mug collection, then proceeded to restore and detail the piece to perfectly match my decor. We added a bunch of authentic nautical elements and as much art from contemporary artists as we could fit. The result is a nice blend of mid-century modern with classic and modern Tiki. Like any home Tiki bar, we’re always looking to improve and add more, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, the blog got a full refresh in February 2020.
Tributes to tributes: It’s always humbling to see our recipes appear on menus at commercial Tiki bars, but we also enjoy seeing talented mixologists put their own spin on things. There’s something oddly comforting in seeing a bar’s tribute to one of our tributes to a Mai-Kai cocktail, which itself was most likely a tribute to a Don the Beachcomber recipe that was a tribute to a Caribbean classic. It’s a true passing of the torch. Recent years have also seen an acceleration in the number of home bartenders showing off their skills and posting their handiwork on Instagram. Tributes to The Mai-Kai’s Black Magic have taken on a life of their own. Please continue to tag us on social media and we’ll add your photos to the bottom of our Mai-Kai cocktail reviews.
THE CLICKS KEEP COMING
Beyond the recipes, we probably wouldn’t be celebrating this milestone if it weren’t for the continued support from everyone who takes the time to read and comment on the blog. We don’t post as often as we used to, but the intention is very much quality over quantity.
We’re happy and honored whenever we look at the site statistics. Continuing with our anniversary theme, here’s a look back at 10 stories you clicked on most often over the past 10 years.
TIKI TOP 10: The most popular blog pages and posts on The Atomic Grog
Site stats over the past 10 years show these as the most-visited URLs on the blog, not counting some of the stand-alone cocktail recipes that we’ve pulled into a separate Top 10 list below.
Okole Maluna Society: The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
Hurricane Hayward reviews and rates the historic restaurant’s current and past tropical drinks, plus reveals a treasure trove of ancestor and exclusive tribute recipes.
1 – Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide – By far the site’s most popular destination, it dwarfs traffic on every other page except for what’s considered the home page (the main list of blog posts). Launched in June 2011, this robust resource continues to be updated regularly with the latest news and updates on the legendary restaurant and its cocktails.
2 – Mai-Kai Cocktail Recipes – We don’t link to it as often (and it’s not as easy to find on the site), but this resource page has proven to be essential for many since it was created in June 2012.
3 – 10 things you may (or may not) know about Social Distortion – Thanks to Google (and Social D fans), this concert preview posted in 2011 continues to generate traffic year after year and remains the most-trafficked standard blog post. (It may also be worth noting here that Slammie Productions was our longtime concert promotion company, established in 1992, which explains why the URL slammie.com is used for the blog.)
4 – Cocktail Recipes A-Z – Much newer than the Top 3, this special page made its debut in May 2019 on our eighth anniversary and will likely rise to the No. 3 slot soon. It features every recipe on the site in a user-friendly format and is currently the hottest page based on its average of 36 views a day in 2021.
5 – Rums of The Mai-Kai include potent, funky flavors from Guyana and Jamaica – Our evolving guide to the historic back bar’s fascinating collection, first posted in May 2012, remains enduringly popular. Look for a major update coming soon, featuring a new lineup of rums that can be used to duplicate the flavors of some of those rare classics.
Support Tiki bars now
Get updates on closings and openings, plus the latest on mugs and merchandise, plus more resources.
6 – Support Tiki bars now: Visit their online stores – The newest blog post on this list (published in March 2020) is our response to an industry crisis, a deep resource for fans seeking merchandise and the latest news on our favorite bars around the world who have been forced to deal with an unprecedented pandemic. It garnered 50 views a day in 2020, an all-time high for the site. We continue to update this post multiple times a week, so keep checking for news – most of which is now, happily, good.
7 – Events Calendar: The Tiki Times – The page that we update the most is ever-evolving but also one of the most useful resources on the blog. Featuring lists of all the top events around the world, both live and virtual, the guide first appeared in February 2015 as The Week in Tiki. After covering all the major news and spotlighting current and historic movers and shakers, the page was reformatted into a comprehensive events calendar that continues to gain in popularity. Numbers climbed dramatically in 2019 and 2020, when readers flocked to find cool online meet-ups and hangouts during the pandemic.
8 – What says ‘Tiki’ better than a drink served in a pineapple? – An oldie but goodie from February 2012, our guide to hollowing out (and serving a delicious cocktail in) a fresh pineapple includes two recipes and some rudimentary tips presented as part of the annual Tiki Month collaborative blogger event.
9 – Major changes in store for Disney’s Polynesian Resort? – Stories about Disney and Tiki always perform well, and this newsy post from June 2012 tops that list. Posted in June 2012, the blog post delved into the rumors of the Disney Vacation Club coming to the resort, along with a massive renovation to remove the Great Ceremonial House fountains as the lobby centerpiece. Both eventually came to fruition.
10 – Disney World announces refurbishment schedule for Polynesian Resort, but no word on Trader Sam’s – The 18th page or story on the site to top 10,000 views to date, this news story from February 2014 detailed the massive refurbishment that would reshape the iconic resort and add an East Coast version of the inventive new Tiki bar, later revealed as Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
BLOGS NOT TO BE MISSED
While we stand behind every story we post, not all of the above are truly representative of the wide variety of stories we’ve covered over the past decade. The stories don’t always show up among the top page-turners, but our coverage of two of our favorite events stands out for its depth and breadth over the years: The Hukilau and the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival have been staples since day one and highlights of our year. Our participation in the annual Hulween parties at The Mai-Kai are frighteningly fun. This past year, we even got Joy Spence of Appleton Rum involved.
Even with all the attention the cocktails receive, and our focus on rum and spirits, we try to stay true to our original mantra in concentrating on five core topics that encompass the Tiki scene: Events | Music | Art | Cocktails | Culture … With that in mind, following are some more blog posts that we’re proud of.
TIKI TOP 10: More blog posts worth reading
Sometimes popularity isn’t everything. Here are 10 of our favorite stories that didn’t hit quite the same heights in the site stats but are still worth reading, even years later.
Thousands of fans unite to show support for The Mai-Kai during closing
More than 10,000 have signed a petition and thousands are flooding social media channels as the historic restaurant plans events and offers take-home cocktails.
1 – Thousands of fans unite to show support for The Mai-Kai during closing – There’s nothing more important right now than the survival of The Mai-Kai, and this recent story pays tribute to the historic restaurant and its many fans.
2 – Year in the rearview: The Top 9 Tiki stories of 2020 – Sure, we’d rather forget what happened last year, but there were also many highlights and reasons to look back and pay tribute.
3 – Beachbum Berry’s ‘Potions of the Caribbean’ cruises back to the birthplace of Tiki cocktails – Not just a preview of the Tiki historian’s latest book, this late 2013 post takes a deep dive into many of the informative symposiums the Bum presented at The Hukilau.
4 – Gone but not forgotten: Surf guitar pioneer Dick Dale, 1937-2019 – The “King of the Surf Guitar” was a larger-than-life figure that I’m privileged to have met, interviewed, and promoted. His passing brought back a flood of memories and tributes.
5 – Behind the magic: A backstage tour of The Mai-Kai’s mysterious bars and kitchen – An exclusive look behind the scenes in November 2011 with manager Kern Mattei opened the floodgates to future explorations of the historic restaurant’s inner sanctum.
6 – ‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tiki’s into The Mai-Kai – Another peek behind the curtain, this 2016 report documents the installation of the first new giant Tiki carving in decades.
7 – ‘Rum Rat Pack’ starts a revolution at The Hukilau 2011 – One of our favorite events in the history of The Hukilau, this gathering of a who’s who of rum and Tiki cocktail experts exceeded all expectations and wowed the crowd that packed The Mai-Kai’s main dining room. Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Martin Cate, Ian Burrell, Wayne Curtis, and Steve Remsberg set the bar high for all events that followed.
8 – Demerara rum flows at The Mai-Kai’s magical retro event featuring The Atomic Grog – A history lesson on one of the key rums in Tiki, including full coverage and photos from our presentation in January 2019.
9 – A journey back in time uncovers ‘Disney side’ – A very personal story of my rediscovery of Disney World (and my belated first haircut at Main Street’s Harmony Barber Shop).
10 – Photos: 10 highlights from The Hukilau 2019 in Fort Lauderdale – Just a reminder of all the fun we had at the last Tiki weekender at The Mai-Kai and Pier 66 hotel, which now seems like eons ago. Let’s hope at least some of these venues and experiences return in the near future.
IT’S OKOLE MALUNA TIME
You could say we found our niche with The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide, which has proved to be an enduring and popular feature on the blog. It’s also a never-ending task, as we continue to discover new information and secrets, tweak recipes, and enjoy the journey with you. These cocktails are not only among the top posts on the blog, they dominate the list of most popular recipes.
What I love about writing (and re-writing) these reviews and recipes is the multi-layered story behind each drink. Most have an ancestor recipe that can be traced back to the early days of Tiki and Don the Beachcomber. Many have fascinating backstories, unearthed by Beachbum Berry and other historians. Others have multiple recipes and different takes, making it a challenge to create the best tribute. And, unlike many other historic Polynesian palaces that are long gone, The Mai-Kai is still living and breathing – providing unique insights into the continuing evolution of the cocktails.
Black Magic: Full review, history and recipes
TIKI TOP 10: The most popular cocktail recipes on The Atomic Grog
Not surprisingly, the drinks with the most views are all from The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide. All of these posts actually contain multiple recipes – including Don the Beachcomber ancestor drinks revealed by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and some authentic recipes that have been published over the years. But it’s the “tribute recipes” that make our guide unique, and we have continued to update and tweak many of these over the years. The first three on this list have the numbers to also appear in the all-time Top 10 (see above), but we’ve pulled them into this special list:
1 – The Black Magic emerges from the darkness as a true classic – It’s not surprising to see this popular recipe top this list. It ranks No. 7 among all blog posts and pages, consistently garnering traffic since it’s appearance April 2012. It’s easily the most shared of all our recipes on social media and has featured multiple updates over the years, keeping interest alive. Exposure on Spike’s Breezeway Cocktail Hour early this year spiked numbers anew.
2 – A near-perfect Zombie, the classic deadly cocktail – It heartens me to see my beloved Zombie come in at No. 2 with The Mai-Kai’s flawless version drawing much interest since this post went up in November 2011. Look for a few further updates this year as we explore more deadly Zombie recipes.
3 – The Barrel O’ Rum is the Rodney Dangerfield of tropical drinks – Our first Mai-Kai cocktail review (June 2011) is understandably popular considering it’s the restaurant’s signature drink and always a crowd pleaser. Our latest update got a boost in 2020 after our live appearance on The Trader Brandon Transmissions, and we promise a full update of the tribute recipe and the cocktail’s history soon.
Jet Pilot: Full review, history and recipes
4 – Jet Pilot soars over its ancestors with flying colors – Like the first three, this is one of the most popular and enduring of the 50+ drinks from The Mai-Kai’s menu and also one of the most-discussed tribute recipes. It joins the Rum Barrel, Mai Tai and Black Magic as the core cocktails in the take-out program that was launched in April 2020 during the pandemic and continues to support the restaurant during its recent closure for repairs. The original post was published in February 2012, but the most recent tribute recipe (and an appearance on Tiki Trail Live) boosted it to its biggest month ever in September 2020.
5 – Cobra’s Kiss is an exotic taste explosion guaranteed to strike your fancy – This review, posted in November 2011, is perhaps best known for documenting our experimentation with the obscure bar syrup fassionola. The cocktail is yet another Donn Beach classic that was retooled by The Mai-Kai’s master mixologist, Mariano Licudine. The result is decadent and distinctive.
6 – Drink like a native with the deadly Shrunken Skull – Updated with new recipes in 2019, this review from August 2011 has been posting strong numbers for years. The addition of the ancestor recipe from the 10th anniversary edition of Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Safari added to the intriguing backstory.
7 – Robust flavors and potency are hallmark of 151 Swizzle – Another of our most highly rated of all The Mai-Kai cocktails, this review also contains a record six tribute recipes dating back to August 2011.
8 – Find out what makes the Shark Bite so Jawesome – One of the most consistently performing recipe pages, most likely due to its close association with Appleton Estate Rum. A personal favorite, this drink also has a distinctive ice feature that adds to its allure.
Demerara Float: Full review, history and recipes
9 – The classic Demerara Float rises again … and again – Our discovery in 2012 of The Mai-Kai’s “lost cocktails” and the ensuing recipes gave us a whole new rabbit hole to dive into. This is our favorite of those retired classics, and the blog readers seem to agree. Recently updated, this post now features an ancestor recipe, an official recipe, and several tribute recipes.
10 – Special Planters Punch is tropical drink history in a glass – Another history lesson, review and recipe archive all rolled into one. This blog post from September 2011 features one of our favorite tribute recipes.
Honorable mention: Just missing the Top 10 but also garnering many views over the years:
Mai Tai | Deep Sea Diver | Mutiny | Mystery Drink | Dr. Fong | Yeoman’s Grog | Bora Bora | Tahitian Breeze | Demerara Cocktail
COCKTAILS WORTH SEEKING OUT
Many recipes on the blog are hidden by design. They’re tucked away in the middle or at the bottom of blog posts. The intention, much like some of our favorite cocktail books, is for you to enjoy the story and stumble across a hidden gem of a drink.
We now have a complete A-Z Cocktail Guide that makes them easier to find after the fact, but many can still be lost in the forest of mighty oaks listed above. In an effort to give some love to these less-frequented recipes, we’ve compiled yet another list.
TIKI TOP 10: Hidden gem recipes on the blog that you must try
Some of our favorite recipes are the lesser-known cocktails that don’t always attract attention but are nevertheless well worth your time.
1 – The Mai-Kai Moai (The Atomic Grog) – Created during a Miami Rum Festival seminar in 2015 and designed for a Tiki Diablo mug featured at a friend’s Mai-Kai wedding, this salute to the classic flavors in many of Mariano Licudine’s best drinks somehow made it onto the menu at Mexico City’s Waikiki Tiki Room in 2019. Mahalo Luigui Hernandez!
2 – The Undead Gentleman (Martin Cate) – It appeared in the award-winning Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki in 2016, but we first posted this (then) lesser-known recipe in 2013 after its inclusion in a Zombie compilation book. We’ve been huge fans ever since, and it fits our anniversary theme perfectly.
3 – Allspicy Daiquiri (The Atomic Grog) – Created to spotlight Plantation 3 Stars, this simple tweak of the cocktail we make most often will work well with any robust white rum. Easy and addictive.
4 – Hanalei Bay (The Atomic Grog tribute) – This little-known Mai-Kai cocktail (itself a descendant of one of Donn Beach’s more under-appreciated drinks) is a wonderful spotlight for the blossoming category of Jamaican rums.
Hamilton Navy Grog: Recipe, event recap and new rum announcement
5 – Hamilton Navy Grog (The Mai-Kai) – When rum importer and label owner Ed Hamilton talks, be sure to listen. It helps if you’re also quaffing a strong and tasty grog, like the one we enjoyed during his February 2019 masterclass at The Mai-Kai.
6 – Altered State Zombie (The Atomic Grog) – Created in 2016 for Mike “Pooch” Pucciarelli and the 20th anniversary of his Altered State Tattoo shop, our off-kilter riff on the classic is just as vibrant and creative as the artist to whom it pays tribute.
7 – Jasper’s Planter’s Punch (Jasper LeFranc) – A great showcase for a wide range of rums (Jamaican and beyond), this Caribbean classic (featuring a special mix that’s well worth the effort to make) has been published in several books and spread online. But most of the credit for its existence goes to rum collector Steve Remsberg. Lucky for us, he coaxed the specs for the secret mix out of the legendary Jamaican bartender decades ago for future generations to enjoy.
8 – Passion Fontaine (Freddy Diaz and Julio Cabrera) – This addictively sweet and spicy rum drink, discovered at the 2014 Miami Rum Festival, is too good to not revisit year after year.
9 – Christmas Eve of Destruction (Brad Smith – Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Santa) – Our tribute to this potent 2019 addition to the Bum’s holiday pop-up is also, sadly, a remembrance of its creator. The Latitude 29 manager and head bartender passed away last year. We honor him with this new holiday staple.
10 – Alloa Aloha (Hurricane Hayward) – We’ve always thought St. Patrick’s Day needed more rum and Tiki mixed with the Irish whiskey. One of our newest concoctions tips our hat to our roots but also can serve as a fine tropical drink for any occasion.
A RECIPE TO DIE FOR
The April 2011 launch of The Atomic Grog blog and the subsequent 10-year history are chronicled in much detail above. But we’re saving the best for last: the accompanying cocktail, a new Zombie we hope repeats the dark magic of the original:
Recipe: Wake the dead, it’s time for the Atomic Zombie Cocktail
Serving a Zombie straight up in a coupe glass was not a novel idea in 2011. Martin Cate unleashed The Undead Gentleman at Smuggler’s Cove the same year, and it later appeared in his award-winning book. But not many others were doing it at the time.
Ours was not a simplified Zombie, however. The cocktail contains up to 15 ingredients and some detailed techniques. This resurrected version contains 13 (including 5 rums), so it follows the same path. But it achieves a distinctive look and taste via more simple ingredients and straightforward presentation. We hope it’s a worthy (and deadly) successor.
Special 10th anniversary recipe
REVENGE OF THE ATOMIC ZOMBIE COCKTAIL
(By Hurricane Hayward, The Atomic Grog)
In a cocktail shaker, combine:
* 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
* 1/2 ounce all-natural grapefruit juice
* 1/2 ounce dry, lightly-aged and filtered rum (Spanish style)
* 1/2 ounce aged column-still rum (Spanish style)
* 3/4 ounce dark Jamaican rum
* 1/2 ounce unaged overproof Jamaican rum
* 3/4 ounce 151 proof Demerara rum
* 1/2 ounce passion fruit syrup
* 1/4 ounce Mariano’s Mix #7 (or falernum)
* 1/4 ounce cinnamon syrup
* 1-2 dashes ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters (or Angostura)
Shake like hell with 1 heaping cup of ice for up to 10-12 seconds. Strain into a large, chilled cocktail glass (more than 6 ounces) and top with:
* 2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
* 2 dashes of absinthe
The bitters and absinthe should form a “pool of blood” on top. Serve and drink immediately for best effect.
Don’t let the bloody slick of bitters and absinthe scare you. It’s crucial to the flavor profile. They combine to form a nice burst of exotic flavor that complements, but doesn’t overpower the drink. Like the 2011 original, this is a very approachable and drinkable cocktail, full of rich, strong flavors. It’s citrusy but rummy, spicy but sweet. Just like any great Zombie.
There’s an underlying dryness that follows through to the last drop, with a lingering taste of absinthe and rum on the final sip (another hallmark of the original). Containing 3 ounces of rum and 2 1/2 ounces of juices and syrups, Revenge of the Atomic Zombie Cocktail is deceivingly strong and easy to quaff. This makes it as deadly and dangerous as any Zombie.
* Most coupe glasses are less than 6 ounces, so be sure to use one of sufficient volume. This drink is designed specifically for the new Tiki Coupe Cocktail Glasses from Libbey.
* The ingredient list may appear to be massive, but the five rums could easily be combined into a blend if making many cocktails over the course of an evening. And three are dashes that require minimal effort.
* Always squeeze fresh lime juice and procure all-natural white grapefruit juice, if possible. The white variety is seasonal and hard to find, so fresh red grapefruit is fine in a pinch.
* Passion fruit, cinnamon, and falernum are all used in one Zombie recipe or another. Here, we combine them for maximum effect. As for the first two syrups, use whatever you have on hand. There are many quality commercial brands nowadays, but we prefer to make ours in-house. As for falernum, we took the recipe up a notch by using Mariano’s Mix #7, a secret ingredient used at The Mai-Kai and traced back to original mixologist Mariano Licudine. We compare the flavor to a rich and spicy falernum syrup with hints of anise. Our tribute version is a blend of 1 tablespoon non-alcoholic falernum (such as Fee Brothers or the Latitude 29 Formula from Orgeat Works) to 1/4 teaspoon of Herbsaint. If necessary, sub Pernod or absinthe for Herbsaint.
* The bitters and dash of absinthe add to the complexity and help temper the sweetness and balance the rums. All provide distinct flavors, so try not to use subs if possible. All of the bitters mentioned above are considered to be among the “Ten Essential Bitters” by Punch and should be readily available.
The rums are crucial to any Zombie. We chose styles that are similar to those in the original version of this cocktail but also tried to push the envelope with a second overproof rum. You could pre-mix all five in a bottle to save time. I’m sure you’ll find other uses for this tasty blend. We’re also hopeful that the upcoming Zombie Blend from Beachbum Berry and Hamilton Rum can replace three of the rums in the blend (the light Spanish, dark Jamaican and 151 Demerara). Here are our recommendations for the five distinct rums:
* Any quality light (but dry) Spanish-style (column still) rum will suffice. This includes the many “white” rums from Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, et al. We used Brugal Especial Extra Dry from the Dominican Republic.
* There are many aged column-still rums from these same countries to choose from, so you can be creative with this one. We used Don Q 2005 Signature Release, but you don’t have to get that fancy. The intent is to add a punch of complex flavor to complement the funky Jamaican and smoky Demerara rums.
* Dark Jamaican rum is a staple in Tiki drinks, and Coruba is typically our No. 1 choice. No need to use an extra funky dark Jamaican rum since we’re also adding an overproof Jamaican. If you can’t find Coruba, there are several other low-budget options (Blackwell, Myers’s, Navy Bay, et al.) that will serve the same purpose of adding body and richness.
* Only a handful of unaged (white) overproof rums are produced in Jamaica (all at 126 proof), including the Wray & Newphew, Rum Fire and Rum Bar brands. Any of these are perfect here, adding a small dose of hogo and richness to the mix.
* No Zombie would be complete without a healthy dose of 151 proof Demerara rum from Guyana. Hamilton and Lemon Hart are the only true options, but at least one of them should be available in most U.S. markets these days. If not, look for rums in close proximity such as Plantation O.F.T.D., Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof or Tiki Lovers Dark. Outside of the U.S., there are other options such as the Navy rums from Lamb’s and Wood’s.
Whatever rums you use, be creative but tread carefully. Zombies will creep up on you when you least expect it.
PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY!
2021: THE YEAR OF THE ZOMBIE
Revenge of the Atomic Zombie Cocktail is the second of 10 new Zombie recipes planned for The Atomic Grog to commemorate our 10th anniversary. The Hamilton Zombie was the first. Look for more in the coming months.
* Zombie alert: 5 crucial things you need to know about the deadly cocktail
More recipes, Zombie news on The Atomic Grog
ATOMIC GROG PAST COVERAGE
‘Boozy’ blog hosts birthday bash
The Atomic Grog celebrated its fifth anniversary in April 2016 with a cocktail party in The Molokai lounge at The Mai-Kai featuring live instrumental surf music from Skinny Jimmy Stingray, drink specials, giveaways, and more.
Okole Maluna Cocktail Academy: How to Mix Like The Mai-Kai
Check out highlights from the sold-out class at The Hukilau 2018 featuring tips and techniques from Hurricane Hayward of The Atomic Grog for turning your home bar into a Tiki cocktail paradise.
The Rums of The Mai-Kai symposium on Inside the Desert Oasis Room
Hear the presentation featuring Hurricane Hayward and Matt Pietrek of Cocktail Wonk live on stage at The Mai-Kai during the closing festivities of The Hukilau 2019.
The Atomic Grog on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
Listen to Hurricane Hayward and Texas Tiki and cocktail podcaster David Phantomatic in the Samoa Room at The Mai-Kai as they discuss (what else) the historic tropical drinks and influence of South Florida’s Polynesian Palace.
The Mai-Kai Walking Tour on Marooned: A Texas Tiki Podcast
Join The Atomic Grog for a Mai-Kai history lesson with carver Will Anders and manager Kern Mattei. It’s a real Tiki museum audio walking tour.
Previous stories: New giant carved Tiki added to outdoor garden
‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tikis into The Mai-Kai