One of the pitfalls of drinking adult beverages is the possibility of overindulgence, which is said to be cured with the “hair of the dog” folk legend of drinking even more. A classic cocktail that is rumored to ease the upset of one too many is the aptly-named Corpse Reviver #2.
The Corpse Reviver #2 belongs to a class of so-called “reviver” cocktails that have origins dating back to the 1870s and even earlier. As most “hair of the dog” remedies suggest, you treat your alcohol-induced illness with more of the same substance, but typically in a fashion that makes it an enjoyable ride to potential alertness.
In 2016, food and drink writer Cara Strickland published a historical breakdown of the cocktail while making note of its curious origins via Tales Of The Cocktail.
From Tales Of The Cocktail:
There are mentions of layered Corpse Reviver drinks (including such ingredients as creme de noyau, maraschino, and yellow chartreuse) said to be on Parisian menus by 1863, but the first Corpse Reviver recipe appears to be from “The Gentleman’s Table Guide” by E. Ricket and C. Thomas, published in 1871. They suggest filling a wineglass half with brandy, half with Maraschino and adding two dashes of Boker’s bitters.
In 1930, Harry Craddock came on the scene with the Corpse Revivers #1 and #2. Originally from America, he came to the Savoy in 1920, shortly after Prohibition began. He started out working at the Dispense Bar, but was head barman at the American Bar by 1925. “The Savoy Cocktail Book” is his most enduring legacy, a compilation of almost 40 years of cocktail recipes, including many of his own devising. His note after the Corpse Reviver #2 recipe reveals a bit of his humor: “Four of these taken in quick succession will unrevive the corpse again.”
The drink is often considered to be a centerpiece of early morning to early afternoon meals, where the mimosa and Bloody Mary typically dominate. With its bright, citrusy profile and balanced flavors, the Corpse Reviver #2 does give off the air that having one or two while noshing on carbs and protein could make for a great pairing.
My first time having the Corpse Reviver #2 was at my favorite cocktail bar in the world, Wisdom in Washington, D.C. The gin-centric bar does amazing work with the spirit base, and it was nighttime when I first had this beauty. Since then, I try to have one in the waking hours, and while I’ve yet to test out the hangover cure theory (as I rarely get those), I’m pretty sure one of these days I’ll find the need.
For my version of the drink, I had options but went with Plymouth for my gin, Lillet blanc, and Cointreau. I couldn’t find any Pernod Absinthe Supérieure in my local stores, so I settled for the next best thing in Pernod Paris. It’s an incredibly fun drink to put together, plus if you have guests, you’ll look cool and distinctive while doing so.
The Corpse Reviver #2:
3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz Lillet blanc
3/4 oz Cointreau (or other liqueurs in its class)
3/4 fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Chill a cocktail glass in a freezer for 10-15 minutes, or fill it with ice and water for about the same time.
In the chilled glass, pour about a 1/4 ounce of the Pernod and swirl it around until it coats the inside of the glass then toss away the excess. A little can stay at the bottom.
Combine your liquids into an ice-filled shaker and mix vigorously for about 10-15 seconds. Pour into the glass and enjoy. Some bartenders garnish with a Luxardo cherry, but that’s overkill to me. A lemon twist is also sometimes used, and that’s also fine.
Here’s how it looks from my hands:
I’ve read of recipes that call for Cocchi Americano, which would make sense in terms of flavor, but I’ve yet to try that application. There are other Revivers, as mentioned before, but in my opinion, this is the best of them all.
As always, sip safely.
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