We are back from tiki-land! This week’s cocktail, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is a very tasty drink, but also has some good cocktail history attached to it.
First, let’s get to the back-story. The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is first mentioned in the famous cocktail guide “The Savoy Cocktail Book“. The Savoy Cocktail Book is/was a 1930’s classic cocktail book from the Savoy London Hotel’s legendary bartender, Harry Craddock. It is worth buying as a cocktail recipe book and/or coffee table book. The book has hundreds of old-time cocktail recipes (some great, some happily lost in time), whimsical illustrations and the occasional witty remark from the author. And it is one of these witty remarks that make the Corpse Reviver No. 2 famous in cocktail circles.
After giving you the recipe for the Corpse Reviver No. 2 (equal parts gin, lemon juice, Lillet, Cointreau and a dash of absinthe), Craddock dryly notes “four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again”. A good line, and one that has been mentioned in just about every cocktail book since, including Gary Regan’s “Joy of Mixology” and one of our faves, Jim Meehan’s “PDT Cocktail Book“.
The problem is, that many readers may think the drink is only mentioned because of the (just slightly) silly name and witty comment, but in fact, the Corpse Reviver No.2 is a very, very good cocktail- and one worth making on a regular basis. You may also see this drink on the menu at many good cocktail bars, we suggest you give it a try. And if you happen to feel a bit bleary, this drink would certainly live up to its name, it is a bright, balanced and flavorful drink- with more depth than you might expect.
As we mentioned earlier, the Corpse Reviver #2 is built from an equal mix of gin, lemon juice, Cointreau and Lillet, with a scant dash of absinthe. Lillet is a French, wine-based apertif with a bit of added sweetness and citrus notes. If you go to any almost any bar or bistro you can find Lillet, and you may wonder what people do with the stuff. Lillet can be enjoyed straight-up, chilled, but is often used as a cocktail ingredient, most famously in the Vesper, of James Bond and Casino Royale fame (hey, it took ten weekly cocktail recipes before we mentioned James Bond, it must be a record..;-).
It is also worth noting that we also tried the Corpse Reviver No. 2 using Cocchi Americano, another apertif, instead of the Lillet. The Cocchi is similar to Lillet, but features more bitter and herbaceous notes and adds complexity to the drink- we really like this version. (See here for a great piece on Cocchi, Lillet and the Corpse Reviver No. 2, and of course, the Craddock quip). Carolyn gave this version a full “oooh, that’s good“, which is about as well as a drink can do in these parts. Cocchi is pretty hard to find, but if you like the Corpse Reviver No.2 as much as we do, you would be well served to seek some out.
Try out the Corpse Reviver No. 2 if you can. You will feel revived, assuming you stop short of drinking four “in swift succession”.
The Corpse Reviver No. 2:
- 3/4 Oz. gin
- 3/4 Oz. Lillet or Cocchi Americano
- 3/4 Oz. Cointreau
- 3/4 Oz. Lemon juice
- Dash of absinthe (or pastis)
- Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, shake thoroughly and strain into a flute, cocktail glass or coupe. No garnish is required, but some recipes suggest a lemon twist.