Monday, November 29, 2010

Zombie Punch

Summary  - we take a drink recipe - Donn Beach's Aku Aku Zombie - and convert it into a punch bowl of
yes, the cauldron is bubbling...

Rest of Post 

The zombie

Once upon a time there was no such thing as a Polynesian restaurant or a tiki drink. 

That changed in 1934 when one man started a restaurant fad that lasted for over 40 years. That man was Donn Beach, “Donn the Beachcomber”, and The Zombie was his most famous drink.

His bar wasn’t just the first Tiki bar, it was the hottest bar in Hollywood with a 90 minute wait for a spot at the bar - every night.  It was where Orson Welles drank next to Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Joan Crawford. 

Donn’s place was famous for the drinks, so naturally competitors would try to steal his recipes - by hiring his bartenders.  Donn had to keep drink recipes secret, even from the bar staff.  A recipe might call for a ½ ounce of “bottle #4”, or a spoonful of “Donn’s mix”, and only Donn knew what went into those bottles.  Since the Zombie was so famous, as famous as a Cosmopolitan or Pina Colada or Mojito - every Tiki bar had to serve some drink called ‘the Zombie’. There was even a  “Zombie Hut” in Oakland and “Zombie Village” in Sacramento.  And of course you could get a drink called the Zombie at Donn’s most famous competitor, Trader Vic’s!  But no one but Donn knew what the real recipe was, and most of the imitations were awful.

Donn died in Honolulu in 1989, but thanks to the research of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry five of Donn’s Zombie recipes have come to light: the “original” 1934 recipe, the 1950 “Spievak” recipe, a 1956 “Waikiki” recipe, and the 1959 recipe Donn created for the Aku Aku Restaurant at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas. Donn never stopped working on, and improving his recipes.

Why is so hard to get a good Tiki drink?  It’s too much work.  The recipe we are serving tonight, “Aku Aku”, has 8 ingredients,  requires juicing 2 kinds of fruit, and making two syrups.  At the height of the Tiki Bar Craze, a restaurant would have as many as 20 bar staff working in assembly line fashion to turn out hundreds of drinks a night.  Except for us amateurs ( and a handful of revival Tiki Bars like Smuggler’s Cove) these drinks are history.

What is a Zombie?

This recipe is Donn's fourth* Zombie Recipe,  From Beachbum Berry Remixed.

Lime juice
White grapefruit juice
Cinnamon infused syrup
Dark Jamaican rum
Gold Puerto Rican Rum
Demerara Rum (151)
‘Zombie Mix’
[Absinthe, Curacao, Falernum, Grenadine]
Are they strong? YES! They are about 13.5% alcohol – 27 proof (most beers are ~5%, wines ~12%) That’s why we are served them over ice in a 5 oz cup

Don’t forget, if you drink too many, you will leave your body, and it will be claimed by the undead.

*our least favorite of the four, good, but not great

Coming soon! Mixology notes: converting a cocktail into a punch recipe

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