Clinton Cawood takes a trip down memory lane with the Corpse Reviver #2.
Bright and bracing, this century-old classic certainly lives up to its name, having brought countless drinkers back to life over the years, particularly in bygone times when a morning cocktail was a more common means of undoing the effects of the night before. It’s a revivifying drink at any time of the day though, for those suffering near-fatal hangovers or not.
The Corpse Reviver #2, most enduring of its kind, combines gin, triple sec, Kina Lillet and lemon juice, with a curative dash of absinthe. With Kina Lillet now a thing of the past, and no sign of it being revived any time soon, Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano are both more than acceptable substitutes.
Whether the Corpse Reviver #1, a mix of cognac, calvados and vermouth, possesses the same powers to raise the dead is a question for another time, but Harry Craddock, in his 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book, added the following note to its entry: “To be taken before 11am, or whenever steam and energy are needed.” The same, presumably, applies to #2, immortalised in that same book by Craddock, who may or may not be the drink’s inventor. Helpfully, he added a caveat: “Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.”
These weren’t the first Revivers, or even the first Corpse Revivers for that matter, and they certainly weren’t the last. There’s a third, for example, mixing Pernod with lemon juice and champagne, and another version from The Savoy, attributed to bartender Joe Gilmore, which raises the dead using Fernet Branca, crème de menthe and brandy.
Meanwhile, the Corpse Reviver #2’s original Savoy Cocktail Book spec, with equal parts of its four main ingredients, stands up perfectly well today, with that easy, memorable ratio probably having something to do with the drink’s longevity too.