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Mike's Mix: Donny Dirk's Voodoo Zombie

Every week, Mike Augustyniak picks a new cocktail recipe from a local mixologist. This week he's getting into the Halloween spirit with a striking and spookily-titled tiki drink from Donny Dirk's Zombie Den in Northeast Minneapolis.

Voodoo Zombie Recipe

¾ oz. falernum (add some grenadine or food coloring if you'd like red falernum)
1 oz. spiced rum
1 oz. amber rum
¾ oz. 151 rum
1.5 oz. orange juice
1.5 oz. pineapple juice

Shake the above ingredients over ice, and then strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Float about ½ oz. of dark rum on top, followed by 6 drops of Pernot liqueur.
The garnish consists of a hollowed-out orange rind, filled with 151 rum and a maraschino cherry, and lit on fire.

Taste Test

First, may I ask: if a drink has a flaming garnish does it really matter how it tastes?  In some ways, garnish is the thing that sets one tiki drink apart from another… and the Voodoo Zombie scores major style points for its garnish.  At their core, most tiki drinks are a combination of rum and fruit juice.  This week's recipe is more rum-heavy than others I've seen, but it is still well-balanced and good to the last drop.  If you want to try some variations on the traditional tiki drink (including tequila infused with fruit juices, and more) check out the other offerings at Donnie Dirk's Zombie Den.

Donny Dirk's Zombie Den
(credit: CBS)

The Double Shot

The tiki bar trend didn't start here in the tropical Twin Cities, but with Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge and Donnie Dirk's Zombie Den both in Northeast Minneapolis, you're excused if you thought it did.

The first Polynesian-themed bar/restaurant in the U.S. was actually opened in Hollywood, CA in 1934; originally called Don's Beachcomber Cafe, it was renamed to Don The Beachcomber in 1937.  At about the same time another Polynesian-themed bar/restaurant, called Trader Vic's, opened in San Francisco, CA.  The owners of both restaurants (and, later, chains) enjoyed a friendly rivalry, and both claim to have invented what could be the most famous tiki drink: the Mai Tai.

While we may never know who was the first to mix a Mai Tai, the inspiration for tiki drinks is decidedly Caribbean.  References to a type of rum-based cocktail called a swizzle exist in literature as far back as the 1700s.  Swizzles usually included some sort of sugar to balance the rum, but were generally an uncomplicated concoction.  As the concept migrated north in the 1920s, 30s, an 40s, more complicated combinations of rums, fruit juices, and flavored syrups met involved garnishes... and the tiki drink was born.

Tiki drinks (also know as 'boat drinks' to fans of Jimmy Buffett) gained popularity in the 1940s and 50s, in part due to soldiers returning from war in the tropics and Pacific.

Some of the more famous tiki drinks include the Mai Tai, the Zombie Cocktail (which is the basis for this week's Mike's Mix), the Bahama Mama, and the Hurricane.


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