Corpse Revivers have a long tradition, as you can already guess from the #2 in the name. Since the mid-1800s, Corpse Revivers have been on bar menus across the USA. And the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is one delicious version of it.
The Corpse Reviver #2 widely gets accepted as the best-tasting drink amongst the Corpse Reviver drinks. It's a perfectly balanced yet still quite boozy cocktail. And an evergreen that surely won't go out of fashion anytime soon.
What is the Corpse Reviver No. 2
Although you would expect a drink meant to cure a hangover is low in ABV to non-alcoholic, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is far from that.
The original cocktail contains Gin, orange liqueur, and Kina Lillet - a French fortified wine, similar to Vermouth. And to create a rounded and perfectly balanced drink, it also includes zesty fresh lemon juice and a dash of Absinthe.
When to drink it
Basically, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is a classic sour cocktail based on Gin. A mix supposed to be so bold and boozy it could bring you back to life no matter how poor shape you are in. The drink became famous because Harry Craddock mentioned it in his Savoy Cocktail Book.
Craddock recommended the Corpse Reviver No. 2 cocktail "to be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed". -A drink you can order anytime to get your groove on.
Ingredients of the cocktail
The original recipe asked for equal parts Gin, orange liqueur, Kina Lillet, lemon juice, and Absinthe. A simple Dry Gin is the best type of Gin for this drink. For the orange liqueur, I like to use Cointreau. So far, so easy. Now, we're getting to the tricky part.
Kina Lillet is no longer available, so bartenders started to replace it with Lillet Blanc. This choice is obvious, considering that producers of Lillet themselves replaced Kina Lillet with Lillet Blanc.
But there's a problem with this: Lillet Blanc is significantly sweeter than the traditional Kina Lillet. Viewed isolated, that would not be such a big deal.
However, the additional sweetness affects the taste notably when used in a cocktail. It's definitely going to be different from what you originally intended.
Therefore, if Lillet Blanc is too sweet for your palate, try Cocchi Americano instead. Cocchi Americano is a dry Italian Vermouth. It is used in many cocktail recipes and closer to the taste of Kina Lillet.
History of the Corpse Reviver #2
The known part of the history of the Corpse Reviver started in the 1870s. Quite possibly, the general formula has been around for longer.
Back in 1871, a recipe called Corpse Reviver got published in the "Gentleman's Table Guide" written by Ricket and Thomas. The drink consisted of one part Brandy, one part Maraschino liqueur, and two dashes of cocktail bitters.
As you can see, that is far from the ingredients featured in today's Corpse Reviver No. 2. And subsequently, other recipes were published in 1875 and 1903 under the name Corpse Reviver or Criterion Reviver.
It wasn't until the Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930, that these Corpse Reviver drinks gained popularity. And sure enough, this popular cocktail book did include a Corpse Reviver No.1 and a Corpse Reviver No. 2.
The first version, or Corpse Reviver No. 1, is closer to the initial recipe from 1871. It asked for two parts of Cognac, one part Calvados, and one part Italian Vermouth. The second recipe pretty much was what we know now as Corpse Reviver No. 2.
Like many Prohibition-era cocktails, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 faded into obscurity over the decades. It was only revived during the 80s when bartenders looked to history for inspiration.
What are the other Corpse Reviver cocktails?
As I mentioned, there also is a Corpse Reviver #1. It contains two parts Cognac, one part Calvados, and one part Sweet Vermouth.
If you get this drink without ice, it may be diluted with a splash of water. If you get it over ice, that will make for enough dilution, so adding water becomes superfluous.
Also, for the Corpse Reviver #2, there's an alternate recipe called the Corpse Reviver #2A. This slightly adjusted formula has sprung out of the mind of the famous Trader Vic, inventor of the Mai Tai cocktail.
When Kina Lillet was no longer available, he replaced it with Swedish Punsch. The drink wasn't named "2A" initially. Bars started to use this naming to distinguish between the classic and the modified recipe.
Other popular Corpse Reviver drinks are, for instance, the Criterion Reviver and the Cafe Royal Reviver. All of these Reviver drinks follow very different recipes that oftentimes appear rather unrelated.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 oz Dry Gin
- 1 oz Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc
- 1 oz Cointreau
- 1 oz Fresh lemon juice
- 1 bsp Absinthe
- Rinse your cocktail glass with Absinthe, discard the excess, and put the glass aside.1 bsp Absinthe
- Add the other ingredients into your cocktail shaker and shake until well-chilled.1 oz Dry Gin, 1 oz Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc, 1 oz Cointreau, 1 oz Fresh lemon juice
- Strain into your prepared glass.