One ingredient that we have a soft spot for, but…
As long as we’re not planning on driving anywhere for a while, we can’t resist a good Zombie. It’s a fun drink to play around with because it has so many components. It also lets you play around with some fun cocktail names for each variation. This Zombie Santa is a holiday-inspired Zombie, made with a trio of rums, cranberry juice and a few other fun elements. The drink is delicious, but the star of this show is really our mini Christmas hat garnish, which was what got us started thinking about making a festive Zombie in the first place.
Like most Zombies, this one starts with a trio of rums: white, dark and 151. We used Plantation white and dark rums, then opted for Lemon Hart 151 to raise the proof of the drink and add a little more richness. There are other 151s out there that would work just as well, like Hamilton and Plantation. We didn’t have the Plantation at the time of developing this recipe or we might have gone for a trio from the same brand!
The cocktail gets its red color and seasonal flavor from cranberry juice. We actually recommend using a slightly diluted cranberry concentrate if you can because it delivers a more intense berry flavor without adding too much additional sweetness, but any pure cranberry juice is good. We sweetened things up with a bit of grenadine, which also enhanced the color of the drink. The final addition to this holiday Zombie was a touch of Fernet Branca. The Fernet has a slightly minty note that adds a freshness to the cocktail and contrasts well with the fruitier elements. We used some restraint with the Fernet and you could probably get away with adding a little more and still get great results.
We mounted our mini santa hat on a Smuggler’s Cover swizzle stick, which held it just above the red cocktail. The hat was part of a set that is more commonly used to dress up a bottle of wine for an ugly sweater party, so check your local liquor stores if you want to pick one up. Otherwise, a cherry and a spent lime works just as well for a finishing touch, adding both red and green elements that will keep this cocktail festive.
1 oz white rum (we used Plantation)
1 oz dark rum (we used Plantation)
1/2 oz 151 (we used Lemon Hart)
1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz Coinetreau
1/2 oz Velvet Falernut
1 1/2 oz cranberry juice
2 tsp grenadine
1/4 oz Frenet Branca
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass, fill with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mini winter hat or mini santa hat and a spent lime half.