Corpse Reviver #2
The corpse reviver #2 was brought to my attention by Chris Lowder, a spirits industry executive and cocktail aficionado in Shanghai. It’s one of his six essential, shaken gin cocktails and the unusual name piqued my curiosity. Research for the most authentic version led me to a compilation of drinks served at the London Savoy Hotel. Written during the art deco period in 1930, it’s an exhaustive tome that documents every libation served there, including wine.
Cocktail nomenclature from the prohibition era presents a problem because they call for measures of cordials, wineglasses, cups and tumblers among others. To understand and interpret these recipes you need the equivalent of the cocktail Rosetta Stone.
Ancient cocktails are also notorious for using obsolete or obscure liqueuers or ingredients that are impossible to find. Corpse reviver #2 is one of them. It calls for Kina Lillet, a quinine enhanced, fortified wine from the Bordeaux region classified as a tonic. So, we’re tasked with finding a substitute that closely matches the original flavor profile.
Making the Corpse Reviver #2
The original recipe uses a “wineglass” as the unit of measure and my rosetta stone says that’s four ounces. It makes a huge cocktail, quite a bit larger than what we are familiar with today. However, it uses equal parts of the four primary ingredients which allows us to scale down to any size we want. I reduced the measures and finished with a more manageable three and a quarter ounce cocktail.
Because the original recipe made a very large cocktail it came with an annotated warning. “Four of these taken in quick succession will un-revive the corpse!”
Original 1930 Recipe
- 1/4 Wineglass London Dry Gin
- 1/4 Wineglass Cointreau
- 1/4 Wineglass Kina Lillet
- 1/4 Wineglass Lemon Juice
- 1 Dash Absinthe
- 3/4 oz London Dry Gin
- 3/4 oz Cointreau
- 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
- 3/4 oz Lillet Blanc
- 1 Dash Angostura Bitters
- 1 Dash Absinthe
- 1 Sprig fresh Rosemary
- Chill a coupe glass in the cooler
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice
- Shake it like it’s your moneymaker
- Double strain into the coupe glass
- Clap or slap the rosemary to release the fragrance
- Garnish with rosemary
And just one more thing…
I know. Rosemary is not in the original recipe and by definition is inauthentic. I couldn’t help myself. It needed a garnish and the fragrance of rosemary fit perfectly with this cocktail. I’m going to claim it WAS part of the original recipe and the editor accidentally red-lined it. Yeah, that’s the story!