Often mistaken for a single drink, the Corpse Reviver actually describes a family of cocktails. These beverages earned their namesake by being pitched to imbibers as hangover cures as far back as the 19th century.
Mentions of the drink date back to 1861 (in an issue of London’s satirical Punch magazine) as well as an early recipe that appeared in the 1871 book The Gentleman’s Table Guide by E. Ricket and C. Thomas. However, the two most famous variations, Corpse Reviver #1 and Corpse Reviver #2, were first standardized in Harry Craddock’s 1930 bartending bible, The Savoy Cocktail Book.
The one every home bartender needs to know? The Corpse Reviver #2. It’s the pinnacle of classic-cocktail elegance: perfectly balanced, easy to remember and mixed in equal parts.
Craddock’s original recipe called for equal parts gin, lemon, Cointreau, Kina Lillet and a whisper of absinthe. Unfortunately, Lillet— a fortified aperitif wine—stopped using cinchona bark in their formula in 1986 and dropped “Kina” from their name, losing the product’s signature bitter quinine bite as a result.
Thankfully, the quality of Corpse Reviver #2s that can be found has improved in recent years as Cocchi Americano, an quinine-fortified aperitif wine, has become widely available outside of Italy and works as a great replacement for the classic Kina flavor.
- ¾ ounce gin
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- ¾ ounce Cointreau
- ¾ Cocchi Americano
- 1 dash absinthe
- Orange peel, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Double strain (strain from shaker through additional fine mesh strainer) into chilled coupe or Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with orange peel.
Note: If a less anise-forward flavor is desired, absinthe can be used to rinse the glass (swirled until the interior is coated and then discarded), rather than shaken with the other ingredients. And if you’d like a lighter cocktail, Lillet Blanc can be substituted for Cocchi Americano.