Cocktail Hour: Corpse Revivers

corpse reviversThis past weekend was Mother’s Day, and Mother’s Day means brunch.  I’m not going to do a bunch of brunch cocktails– you know, bloody Marys, salty dogs, mimosas, Bellinis– but I am going to talk about Corpse Revivers.

These aren’t cocktails from the night of the living dead, but drinks that were perfectly acceptable, pre-Prohibition, to drink in the morning to help you cure a hangover.  I’m not so sure– the last thing I want to do when I get up after a late night of partying is drink more!  Henry Craddock, in The Savoy Cocktail book, instructed: “To be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed.  Four of these taken in swift succession will quickly unrevive the corpse again.”  No kidding!

I made both Corpse Revivers on an recent evening.  The first, Corpse Reviver #1, is based on brandy or Cognac (depending on the recipe) and the second, Corpse Reviver #2, is based on gin.

The Corpse Reviver #1

1 oz Italian Vermouth

1 oz Calvados or Apple Brandy (I used Laird’s Apple Jack)

2 oz Brandy

Shake, then serve straight up.

I’ll be honest– I didn’t drink much more than a couple of sips of this one.  I think I might like it a little bit more in the winter, because with the combination of apple, apple brandy, and the herbs and spices of Italian vermouth– it’s a heavy drink.  I’ll try it again on a cold winter’s night…er… morning.  These are morning drinks.  I keep having to tell myself that.

Now, Corpse Reviver #2– this is a drink I can get behind.  It features four ingredients that, once you taste the drink, become obscured and far more complex than the sum of their parts.  First, you have gin– I used beefeater– which ends up not being nearly as prominent a flavor as you might think.  Next, is Lillet Blanc.  Lillet, like vermouth, is a fortified wine– it’s fortified with citrus liqueur, and has a very prominent citrus nose and a honey finish, if you drink it as an aperitif.  Like vermouth, a bottle of this stuff will only last in your refrigerator for about two weeks– so look for some other Lillet-based cocktails in the coming couple of weeks so you can use up that bottle.  To boost that orange flavor, Cointreau is a component.  The last liqueur is pastis– I used Herbsaint, though you could use a good Absinthe if you have it (I don’t. Yet.).  The last component is lemon juice.

Corpse Reviver #2

1 oz Gin

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz Lillet

1 oz Lemon Juice

Dash of pastis (Absinthe or Herbsaint)

Shake, and serve up in a cocktail glass.

Wow.  This drink has some great parts, but it really is the sum total– it’s unexpectedly complex.  When Terry took a sip, he thought about that sip for a few moments– “It’s almost smoky,” he said– the combination of the ingredients really highlights the Herbsaint, and tempers what can be a very strong licorice flavor.  It’s citrusy and refreshing (and definitely has a kick).  I had my first Corpse Reviver #2 at Local 127 and just had to make one at home– it’s definitely a welcome addition to my summer cocktail list.  It also might just be an addition to my brunch cocktail menu, as well.

What’s your favorite “hair of the dog”?



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