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Come back to life with this refreshingly bright 5-ingredient retro cocktail
Learn how to wake the dead with a classic gin cocktail, the Corpse Reviver No. 2! It’s a retro cocktail made from 5 easy ingredients: gin, aperitif wine, triple sec, lemon juice, and absinthe. Every sip is deliciously zesty, has just the right amount of sweetness, and is complex in the best way.
There are many Corpse Reviver cocktails to choose from but the Corpse Reviver No. 2 cocktail recipe might be the most popular. It comes from the 1930s Savoy Cocktail Book, a vintage cocktail recipe book by the Savoy Hotel’s most famous bartender, Harry Craddock. He originally intended for the drink to be a hangover cure but it has since transformed into a well-loved gin cocktail recipe.
My recreation of this classic drink is well-balanced with subtly sweet flavors and plenty of lemony freshness. Enjoy it while you get ready for a girl’s night out, at a cocktail party, or as it was originally intended: as a hangover cure!
What is a Corpse Reviver?
The Corpse Reviver No. 2 isn’t the only Corpse Reviver out there. A number of 19th-century hangover-curing drinks fall under the same name and feature potent and energy-boosting flavors (so much so that they could wake a corpse).
To read more about the history of Corpse Reviver cocktails, check out this article from Difford’s Guide.
History of the Corpse Reviver number 2
The original recipe 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 used his recipe to make my first Corpse Reviver No. 2. but the result didn’t blow me away. The mix of equal parts dry gin, Cointreau, Cocchi Americano, lemon juice, and one drop of Pernod seemed unbalanced and lacked star anise.
After playing around with the recipe, ingredients, and ratios, my Reviver replica transformed into a well-balanced drink with a zesty pop and refreshingly complex flavors.
My recreation of this classic cocktail features 5 ingredients that should be easy to find at your local liquor store. Here’s what you need:
You need 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. The woodsy juniper flavor is highlighted in every sip and never throws the drink off balance.
These fruity, aromatized 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.
Craddock’s original recipe was made with Kina Lillet, which no longer exists. It gave the drink a nice bitterness because it was flavored with quinine. Cocchi Americano (pronounced KOH-kee uh-meh-ree-KAH-noh) is my aperitif wine of choice here. Lillet Blanc also works quite well but it will give the drink a sweeter flavor profile.
This is responsible for the cocktail’s subtle sweetness, brightness, and hint of citrus. Cointreau or Triple Sec are both great choices, although you can use any orange liqueur you like.
For brightness, balance, and tang. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice if you can, and don’t forget to save the peel for a garnish!
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. Only a splash is used here because it offers the drink a more nuanced flavor and bitter notes of star anise.
You can add the absinthe directly into the cocktail shaker or rinse the glass with it instead. For an absinthe wash, pour the splash of absinthe into your glass, swirl it around, then shake out the excess into the sink.
This is an easy vintage cocktail you can put together in 5 minutes. But when you want the best sips possible, keep these tips in mind:
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
There are a few varieties of published Corpse Reviver recipes, each designed to be a “pick me up”, with strong flavors and bold ingredients. No. 2 is the most popular in the family, but there’s also No. 1, No. 3, and many other variations that fall under different names.
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 an energy-inducing drink, made with cognac, apple brandy, and Italian vermouth. The flavors are much more bitter and fruity compared to number 2.
🎉 It's time to cook! 🎉
Alright, friend! It's your turn to make this delish recipe for your next get-together.
When you do, please leave a comment and star rating below so we can hear what you think!
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.