The Corpse Reviver #2
Occasionally we are presented with a recipe for a drink we know and love, as is the case with the Corpse Reviver #2. Bartenders frequently recommended this bevvy when we were new to cocktail culture, and it was one of the first classic cocktails that we learned to order by name. Now that I serve drinks professionally, I too rely on this recipe as a gateway for novices. The drink is at once accessible and complex. It contains both familiar ingredients – gin and orange liqueur, and less common spirits – absinthe and Lillet Blanc. It is refreshing yet potent and citrusy enough to placate patrons who insist that they do not care for gin.
Historically the term ‘corpse reviver’ was used to describe a group of cocktails – those proverbial hair-of-the-dog drinks designed to restore the constitution after an evening of debauchery. Most of these recipes have faded into obscurity, but the #2 has enjoyed a revival in the last decade and should be available in any respectable cocktail bar.
It is interesting to note how quickly the cocktail scene has changed. In his entry on the Corpse Reviver #2, Ted Haigh notes the difficulty of obtaining Lillet Blanc in certain markets. This was in 2009! D & I live in a notoriously barren market, but in 2016 Lillet Blanc can be found in even the most uninspired of liquor stores.
And while we’re on the topic of Lillet Blanc, it has been noted elsewhere on this blog that the recipe for this product was changed in 1986, reducing the amount of quinine and thus bitterness in the fortified wine. We frequently substitute Cocchi Americano in classic recipes calling for Lillet, which offers more spice and bitterness. For this entry we tried making renditions using both Lillet and Cocchi and found that while there were subtle differences, neither was a clear frontrunner. Feel free to use either product, especially if you are trying to conserve precious refrigerator space.
Though the Corpse Reviver #2 has earned iconic status in classic cocktail culture we should note that the formula for one other Corpse Reviver still exists. Purportedly the original Corpse Reviver, the recipe is included in The Savoy Cocktail Book and contains calvados, brandy, and sweet vermouth. We only had cognac and a VSOP calvados on hand so our version was decidedly high-end, but we both agreed worth drinking. It wasn’t a runaway success, (I was tempted to add a dash of bitters or an Ardbeg mist), but it was certainly on par with some of the other forgotten cocktails we have explored.
D surprised me when he professed that while both Corpse Reviver versions are pleasing, neither is acceptable morning fare. He declared, “For reviving the corpse, I’d rather have a Caesar.” This shocked me, coming from Mr. Boozy, but D has a point. He doesn’t want complexity early in the day, just a long juicy, spicy, easy-drinking beverage possibly accompanied by pickles and a peperoni stick. But after 5pm, a Corpse Reviver always hits the spot.
The Corpse Reviver #2
- .75 ounce gin
- .75 ounce Cointreau
- .75 ounce Lillet Blanc/Cocchi Americano
- .75 ounce fresh lemon juice
- Dash absinthe
Add a dash of absinthe to a chilled cocktail glass and swirl to coat the inside, discarding any excess. Shake the remaining ingredients over ice and strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a cherry or a lemon twist.
The Corpse Reviver #1
- 1.5 ounces Brandy
- .75 ounces Calvados
- .75 ounces sweet vermouth
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.