The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is a pre-prohibition cocktail made from gin, aperitif wine, triple sec, lemon juice, and absinthe. It’s a refreshing, light, yet slightly sweet and tart concoction!
“Four of these taken in swift succession will un-revive the corpse again.”
Heading to a speakeasy tonight? Start the night on theme with the Corpse Reviver No. 2. It’s a hangover cure turned retro cocktail made from gin, aperitif wine, triple sec, lemon juice, and absinthe.
This classic gin cocktail is delightfully refreshing, slightly sweet yet tart, and has lovely hints of citrus. It's a perfectly balanced drink with a lingering end note of anise that suits every sip unbelievably well.
The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is one of many cocktails I love from Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. His collection of vintage cocktails always makes a night out with friends extra enjoyable! Once you’ve given this gin cocktail a try, move on to The Abbey Cocktail and The Ruby Fizz Cocktail. They’re sure to be a hit!
A pre-prohibition cocktail
The original Corpse Reviver No. 2 first popped up in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. Published in 1930, the Savoy Hotel bartender had the opportunity to publish a variety of classic cocktails and unique concoctions.
I mixed up my first Corpse Reviver No. 2 by following the recipe in the book: a mix of equal parts dry gin, Cointreau, Cocchi Americano, lemon juice, and one drop of Pernod. Unfortunately, that first sip only resulted in disappointment. It seemed unbalanced and lacking star anise.
I played with the recipe, ingredients, and ratios, and voila! My revived, well-balanced Reviver-replica turned out to be a success.
Almost all of these ingredients should be easy to find at your local liquor store:
Choose a dry gin for this vintage cocktail. Dry gin, like Beefeater, Tanqueray, or Bombay Sapphire, is botanical-forward and made without any artificial flavors or sweeteners. You’re sure to taste the juniper in every sip.
These fruity fortified wines are unlike any regular glass of wine you’ve had. They have bold and unique flavor profiles thanks to added botanicals, like roots, bark, flowers, and spices.
My choice in this vintage gin cocktail was Cocchi Americano (pronounced KOH-kee uh-meh-ree-KAH-noh) although Lillet Blanc is perfectly acceptable as well (albeit sweeter). Kina Lilet was the classic choice (it no longer exists), however, after being reformulated in the 1980s to reduce the quinine levels, the bitterness was almost wiped out. In my opinion, the bitter bite at the end makes this cocktail.
Like Cointreau or Triple Sec. The liqueur brightens this cocktail with its sweetness and hint of citrus, and also gives it a subtle orange color.
For brightness, balance, and tang. Squeeze the juice yourself if you can!
Just because absinthe is sometimes known as the Green Fairy doesn’t mean you’ll be seeing them after sipping on this cocktail! You can relax because the rumor that absinthe is a hallucinogenic is a myth.
A splash of absinthe is added to the cocktail shaker, although many people prefer to rinse the glass with absinthe instead. Both methods will give your Corpse Reviver No. 2 a refreshingly bitter note of star anise.
Tips and tricks
While this is a fairly simple cocktail, it won’t hurt to follow a few tips and tricks:
Chill your cocktail glass
Place your coupe glasses in the freezer ahead of making this dry gin cocktail. Or, if you’re low on time, fill the glasses with ice and a little water to chill them from the inside out. Trust me - cocktails in an ice-cold glass always taste better!
Don’t forget the ice
Shaking the cocktail with plenty of fresh ice not only chills every sip but slightly dilutes the alcohol as well. It’s an important step in toning down this very boozy drink.
Big batch cocktails
Serving a crowd? Make a big batch of Corpse Reviver No.2’s by following the tips in my big batch cocktail guide.
Frequently asked questions
Corpse Revivers are a group of 19th century hangover-curing drinks. These cocktails are meant to be so strongly flavored and potent that they could wake a corpse.
There are a few varieties of published Corpse Reviver recipes, however, the most popular is No. 2.
Corpse Reviver No. 1 was the first of these cocktails to gain popularity after the recipe was published in The Savoy Cocktail Book. It’s made with cognac, apple brandy, and Italian vermouth. It’s an energy-inducing drink, much like No. 2, but more bitter and fruity in flavor.
Corpse Reviver No. 2
- 2 ounces aperitif wine
- 2 ounces dry gin
- 2 ounces triple sec
- 1 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Splash absinthe
- Combine all ingredients into your cocktail shaker of choice.
- Fill with ice, vigorously shake, and pour into two chilled cocktail glasses.
Adapted from Harry Craddock's [The Savoy Cocktail Book.