Refreshing Corpse Reviver

A cocktail that’s sure to bring you back from death’s icy grip

A corpse reviver with a lemon zest twist in a martini glass.

photo by Dmitry Lobanov

Tell your Cosmopolitans to take to the country, encourage your Manhattans to head for the Hamptons and suggest your Daiquiris say their prayers because it is time for the Corpse Reviver to once again claw its way back from the dead—also known as your liquor cabinet—and into a chilled martini glass near you.

Perhaps the best part about this cocktail is that it does not need to be Halloween for you to partake in its enjoyment (although it does add to the fun). In fact, this family of libations was mixed to be a “hair of the dog” hangover cure, helping restore your vitality from possibly a night of a little overindulgence. But do not take it from us; take it from one of the most famous bartenders of the 1920s and ’30s—Harry Craddock—who gave us two recipes in the 1930 “The Savoy Cocktail Book.” 

The first cocktail, Corpse Reviver No.1 #1, is “to be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam or energy are needed.” As for the second, Corpse Reviver No. 2 #1, “Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.” Then again, there is a good chance any four alcoholic beverages taken one right after the other would wake the deadest of the dead.

And like the undead that just keep coming back for more, the Corpse Reviver has gone through a handful of iterations since its creation feasting on Cognac VSOP, Calvados/Applejack Brandy and Martini Rosso sweet vermouth in some versions and London dry gin and Absinthe in others. 

No matter its penchant, each member in this posse of cocktails has one thing in common: its ability to reanimate and have you lumbering for more.

Corpse Reviver No. 2 #1 (Savoy Recipe)

Makes 1

¾ shot London dry gin
¾ shot triple sec
¾ shot Lillet Blanc or dry vermouth
¾ shot freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 shot Absinthe
lemon zest, for garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon zest twist.