Corpse Reviver #2

October 30, 2012

Halloween’s not really my bag, but I’ll certainly use it as an excuse to down a couple of my favourite cocktails.

A Zombie would be nice, but I don’t have the luxury of the fancy rums needed. No matter, a couple of months ago, I tried this one, and it became an instant favourite:

Corpse Reviver #2

1 oz gin

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz Lillet Blanc

1 oz lemon juice

1 dash absinthe or pastis

Shake and strain into a coupe glass. Optionally drop a cherry in the bottom or garnish with lemon or orange twist.

This is a great drink. The balance is important, but it’s not difficult to get it tasting just right, with every ingredient coming through. It’s light and refreshing, so could conceivably do its job of corpse-reviving if you’re the sort that’s into the hair-of-the-dog. Personally, I think it would be a great Sunday brunch drink. My wife’s also a big fan, and she’s quite fussy with her cocktails.

Most recipes go for these proportions (for some differences, check out this Kaiser Penguin post) and it seems like the perfect balance to me. The only tricky part is that ‘dash’ of absinthe. I find that absinthe can easily become too much in a cocktail. I’d recommend less than a 1/4 tsp, and personally I just do it ‘Sazerac style’ – coat the glass with it and then dash out the excess.

I love gin and I love Cointreau, but the real rockstar ingredient is the Lillet (pronounced ‘lee-lay’ but softly on the ‘lay’). I finally got my hands on a bottle of this (previously unavailable in Taipei) from Sundy, and if it wasn’t essentially a 1000NT bottle of wine, I’d be drinking it all the time, straight or with tonic over ice. It’s really delicious.

Lillet Blanc (there’s also a ‘Rouge’) is broadly an ‘aperitif wine’, similar to vermouth, and specifically a ‘quinquina’ similar to Dubbonnet (which I also adore). It tastes to me a little like a souped-up Sauvignon Blanc, and there are indeed Sauvignon Blanc grapes in there, along with others, and various herbs and spices to add (fairly light) flavouring.

In cocktail circles, Lillet is often used as a vermouth substitute to create interesting variations on classic vermouth drinks. I’ve tried Martinis, Manhattans and Negronis with it, and they’re all great.

For mixing purposes, there is some controversy about how close it is to the original ‘Kina Lillet’ called for in many old recipes. Some say ‘Kina’ was much more bitter, others say not much, and Lillet themselves say that it hasn’t even changed. Read this Savoy Stomp post if you’re interested in the details.

Back to the Corpse Reviver. As the ‘#2′ suggests, there were a number of drinks with this name (back around the turn of the 19th century), but only #1 and #2 are really still in circulation, and the #2 is the most popular of the pair (check out this post for more). Just as the ‘Cocktail’ was originally a hangover cure, Corpse Revivers were one of a number of drinks with similar names (Eye-Openers was another popular one), designed to cure you with a bit more of what ails you.

So no, this isn’t really a zombie reanimator kind of thing. It’s more for self-prescription. Does it work? Well I’ve never actually tried it for its intended purpose. If you have a Halloween party planned, why not track down a bottle of Lillet and get ready to try it the next morning. Better yet, get started now. Corpse Revivers could be self-perpetuating.

4 Responses to “Corpse Reviver #2”

  1. putneyfarm Says:

    Great post, one of our favorite drinks. And Lillet is good stuff- we drink it on the ricks in summer (prolly cheaper here)…

  2. Seamus Says:

    I haven’t had one of these in a few years due to lack of Lillet. Actually it is being imported to China since maybe a year ago, but I just haven’t got around to tracking it down.

    But. . . If you like the Lillet aspect, and if you like spirits-focused cocktails, I suggest you check out the 20th Century.

    Back when I was drinking these two regularly I ended up preferring the 20th Century. I wanted to prefer the Corpse Reviver based on its cooler name, but the 20th Century won me over basedon daste.

    The 20th Century is just softer. The focus is on the gin with everything else cut back. The triple sec gets replaced by a reduced dose of creme de cacao, and the absinthe gets left out. It sounds weird, but it works provided you go easy on the creme de cacao. Recipes often specify equal parts of everything besides the gin. Don’t do that, Try pouring about half as much creme de cacao as lemon juice and adjust from there.

    • theboolion Says:

      I tried the 20th Century about a month ago – I like the name! I remember liking it, but yes, I I think it needed a little less chocolate. I’d have to check my notes.


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