Skip to main content

How to make the ultimate Halloween cocktail, according to Death & Co.

We got some expert advice on making the perfect Halloween cocktail for 2022

Halloween is here, so break out the ghost costumes and spiderwebs. And while you’re at it, fix up a drink that matches the spooky aura of the season. But not just any drink will do, as Halloween calls for something equal parts chilling, festive, and a little over the top—much like the holiday itself.

Enter the Zombie, a tiki classic (no, not that kind of zombie). This rum-based drink was born in 1934, in the tender post-Prohibition years. Cocktail guru Donn Beach is credited for having invented the drink, which gained a big following at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Like so many classic drinks, there’s great folklore involved. Apparently, the drink was whipped up to cure the hangover of a local businessman who needed to get through a meeting. He returned later saying the drink had turned him into a zombie.

The Death & Co. Zombie cocktail, served flaming.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s not an impossible story, given the high-octane nature of the cocktail. It’s deceptive, with tropical goodness masking a decidedly alcoholic beverage. Many tiki bars place a cap on how many Zombies you can order in one sitting because they have a tendency to turn patrons into, well, the walking dead. Because they are so high-proof, they’re often served aflame, a great trick to add to your Halloween festivities.

It’s one thing to throw some dry ice in a drink or dye it red to make it look like blood. It’s quite another to make a cocktail that you and your friends won’t soon forget. So, we reached out to our friends at Death & Co. for insights on the ultimate Halloween drink. And they delivered.

Javelle Taft is the head bartender at Death Co.’s NYC outpost. He loves sherry, getting a good bike ride in, and is known for making some seriously good cocktails. “The backbone of a Zombie is built on the rum split,” he says. “Traditionally it’s made with a white or un-aged rum from Puerto Rico or Cuba, Jamaican rum, and Guyanese demerara-style rum. Each rum plays a significant part in the quality of the cocktail, so choose wisely. The remaining ingredients—Don’s Mix, Falernum, Grenadine, lime juice, and bitters—that work in harmony don’t waiver much.”

So about that rum. “For white rum I like Probitas,” he says. “It’s a blend of rums from two powerhouse Caribbean rum operators, Foursquare in Barbados and Hampden Estate in Jamaica. That’s the x-factor for me. Lemon Hart 151 demerara-style rum is my pick for its savory, full-body characteristic and Smith & Cross Jamaican rum for its ripe banana and cocoa notes.”

As mentioned, there are many ways to Zombie, so play around and dress it up however you like (although we strongly suggest the recipe below). “The Zombie cocktail has been riffed on many times before,” Taft says. “So the main takeaway here: have fun with it!”

Death & Co. Zombie Punch

There are many versions of the Zombie but this one is hard to beat. It’s all about a lovely balance of rums, candied fruit flavors, and the refreshing nuttiness only Falernum can provide. The drink can be scaled up easily, whether you need a spare for your partner or a big punch batch for the whole group. And you can always tone it down a bit by halving the rum ratios, or even diluting the whole thing with a bit of soda water or extra ice.


  • 1 ounce Plantation OFTD
  • 1 ounce Cana Brava
  • 1 ounce Smith and Cross
  • 1 ounce Don’s Mix (cinnamon syrup and grapefruit juice)
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Falernum
  • 1/4 ounce Grenadine
  • 2 dashes Absinthe
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters


  1. Combine all ingredients except Absinthe and Angostura bitters with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Stain into a glass, preferably a skull.
  3. Garnish with mint, orchid, or pineapple and light it up if you feel like some flames.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
This is how to make antioxidant-rich cinnamon tea
Your guide to cinnamon tea
cinnamon tea

Cinnamon is one of the most unique spices, created from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree. Known for its warm and woody flavor, cinnamon has many roles in cooking and baking. But cinnamon's unique flavor is also perfect in cinnamon tea, creating a light, natural sweetness made by steeping the bark of a cinnamon tree into boiling water.
Not only is cinnamon tea deliciously cozy, but it's also easy to make and contains many antioxidants for a health boost, too. Below, discover everything you wanted to know (and more) about cinnamon tea and how to make it.

What is cinnamon tea?

Read more
It’s summer, so make yourself a sunflower cocktail
A light and floral variation on the Corpse Reviver No. 2
Green cocktail with black background

Last Word (Green) cocktail at two fifteen. two fifteen

One of the classics of the cocktail canon is the Corpse Reviver No. 2, a combination of gin, Lillet Blanc, and triple sec that is fruity and complex and has been popular since its inception in the 1930s. But while many cocktail enthusiasts know this drink well and often order it at bars, there are also many variations on this well-known choice that are worth trying out as well.

Read more
Prosecco granita is the base for your new favorite summer cocktail
Prosecco granita is the base for your new favorite summer cocktail recipes
prosecco granita cocktails aleisha kalina g2cxnrermkm unsplash 2d5786

When it comes to summer drinks, isn't there something awfully tempting about a gas station slushie? These drinks may not be subtle or sophisticated in terms of flavor, but there's something undeniably satisfying about the crunchy texture of ice crystals. And for my fellow cocktail enthusiasts, there's a lesson here about texture. You can create something similar in terms of barely-frozen ice that's perfect for summer sipping, and you can do it with far more interesting and complex boozy flavors. It's also shockingly easy to do at home.

What you're going to want to do is make a prosecco granita.
How to make prosecco granita
It really couldn't be simpler to make a granita. All you need to do is take a bottle of prosecco (or other fizzy wine of your choice -- even Champagne if you're feeling fancy) and add a few tablespoons of sugar and any other flavoring ingredients you want. Pour your mixture into a wide, shallow pan (ideally, the liquid should be no more than an inch deep for quick freezing) and then pop the tray into the freezer.

Read more