If you can imagine real quick, a zombie with a Scottish accent; “Aye, give us your brains!” while creeping slowly towards you on seaside Islay. Back to reality, yet so far away is my night sampling six Zombies made with peaty single malt Scotch, near the ocean in Seal Beach at 320 Main. Retro tiki decor, atomic lounge music, and a parade of Hawaiian shirts and dresses, these tiki-heads surrounding the bar carried some seriously colorful drinks. I squinted, ordered two Zombies, and found a spot near the three-foot long tiki punch catamaran by the galley, gave a few stirs and took a sip.
Did I travel back in time? Had I been stuck in my nuclear bomb shelter for too long? Why were six noted bartenders crafting these intense drinks on a Monday night? Marcos Tello (Seven Grand, The Edison & 1886), Pablo Moix (La Descarga, Harvard & Stone & Scopa), John Coltharp (Seven Grand, Cana + Tasting Kitchen), Matt Robold (Rumdood.com & 320 Main), Kelly Merrell (Trader Sams), and also 320’s own Jason Schiffer were squaring off for Islay of the Zombies; an event that had 320 Main’s matchbox-sized dining room packed wall to wall with a line out the door leading to the bar.
Fully expecting a horror movie in a glass, Zombie cocktails with Islay Scotch actually played my palate like a kid’s rainbow-colored xylophone. Somewhere between the intense smoky peat phenols of Islay Scotch and the tropical vibe, these drinks seemed to add flaming bagpipes to a Polynesian ukulele band…and I was dancing to it like a demon possessed.
Although Marcos Tello’s Flintlock Zombie won the event handily, my favorite of the night was Sweet Peat, a creation of Mark Robold, who’s tall yellow Zombie hit me with waves of refreshing tropical fruit that blended big bad peaty Laphroaig into tasting like a caramelized, barbecued pineapple. Matt was kind enough to pass along his recipe, and might mix you one if he’s behind the bar at 320 Main the next time you go!
Sweet Peat Zombie
- 1 ounce Plantation Pineapple Rum
- 1 ounce Laphroaig 10-Year
- 1 ounce Clement Coconut Liqueur
- 0.75 ounce Cane Syrup
- 0.5 ounce Lemon
- 0.5 ounce Lime
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Frappe with crushed ice, dump into a chilled Collins glass. Garnish with a pineapple spear.