Mambo Zombi opens above Georgia Beer Garden for ‘celebration of death and life’

The interior of Mambo Zombi.

Credit: Mambo Zombi

Credit: Mambo Zombi

The interior of Mambo Zombi.

Looking for the perfect setting for your spooky season cocktail? The team behind Georgia Beer Garden is ready to help you scare up a good time with their new Day of the Dead-inspired bar, Mambo Zombi.

The bar, which opened in mid-September on the second floor of the Georgia Beer Garden building at 420 Edgewood Ave., is the creation of Brandon Ley and Johnny Martinez (who also own Joystick Gamebar across the street) and bartender and partner Kysha Cyrus.

Accessible through an outdoor staircase, the space was temporarily used as a sports bar and a Halloween-themed bar last year.

“Seeing it work in that way, even though it was different from what Mambo Zombi is, helped things click in our heads that it could be a totally different thing,” Martinez said.

The interior of Mambo Zombi on Edgewood Avenue.

Credit: Mambo Zombi

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Credit: Mambo Zombi

“We want you to come in, reminisce, connect with those who have passed,” he said. “We have such difficulty talking about that as Americans ... this bar may be shrouded in death, but it’s truly a celebration of life,” adding that he sees it as a place “where, if Grace Jones and Telly Savalas met, they would have a drink together.”

Nearly every inch of the 50-seat space reflects the overall concept, with skulls as the overriding motif. The bar features a tile mosaic made by a local artist, with a copper bar top that “we’re not scared of getting patina-ed and worn,” Ley said. Although there’s a clear Day of the Dead influence with pieces from Mexican and Central American cultures, the décor also includes Asian and Catholic iconography.

“There’s an exuberance and celebration in so many parts of the world that we wanted to connect to,” Ley said. “We want it to be a space that is used and feels like it’s loved and lived in. Sterile environments are not our thing.”

Seating options include bar seats, high tops and lounge seating with couches. “We’ve created tiny little spaces where you can feel like you’re on your own or part of the larger room,” Martinez said.

The interior of Mambo Zombi on Edgewood Avenue.

Credit: Mambo Zombi

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Credit: Mambo Zombi

He also notes the space’s “controversial” bathroom with an “Island of the Dolls” vibe that has “creeped some customers out,” he said (there’s another, less creepy bathroom available in another part of the bar).

Cyrus, who has worked as a bartender and manager in Atlanta for more than 20 years, including at Georgia Beer Garden and Joystick, developed the cocktail list, which features both classics like Harvey Wallbangers and Mai Tais and original drinks.

Drawing on tiki influences as well as the Afro-Caribbean flavors and ingredients from her native Jamaica, she said she aimed to create “refreshing, lighter drinks that also have these complex flavors,” using liquors like pisco, Caribbean rum and cachaca.

The Elote, made with Barbancourt Haitian rum, also uses housemade corn milk and condensed milk for creaminess, while the Monkey See uses banana-infused rum, amaro and burnt orange peel for a bit of smokiness.

She also brought in other South American flavors on the nonalcoholic drinks Chica Marada, a traditional Peruvian drink made with purple corn and pineapple husk, and tepache made with brown sugar, fermented pineapple and cinnamon.

“I wanted to feature things that were traditional, but interesting to people who may not have had those drinks, (and) putting our own spin on it,” she said.

The interior of Mambo Zombi on Edgewood Avenue.

Credit: Mambo Zombi

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Credit: Mambo Zombi

Ley, who calls Cyrus “a genius when it comes to coaxing flavors out of fruits and produce,” calls out the frozen Pina Colada as an unexpected hit.

“A lot of people don’t drink it a lot, so they get really get hyped when they see it,” Cyrus said. “We just use really great ingredients. It’s such a basic recipe, and we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. I just make sure those flavors are boosted up, and if you make it right, it’s going to taste right.”

A small rotating snack menu will feature items like Cricket Chex mix, a spiced fruit cup, and al pastor-stuffed onigiri.

Mambo Zombi’s opening hours are 6 p.m.-close Thursdays-Saturdays and 1-6 p.m. Sundays.

420 Edgewood Ave. NE, Atlanta. instagram.com/mambozombi

Scroll down to see the opening menu for Mambo Zombi:

The menu for Mambo Zombi

Credit: Mambo Zombi

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Credit: Mambo Zombi

The menu for Mambo Zombi

Credit: Mambo Zombi

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Credit: Mambo Zombi

The menu for Mambo Zombi

Credit: Mambo Zombi

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Credit: Mambo Zombi

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