The Corpse Reviver

A reanimated classic in time for Easter


Easter has become one of my favorite drinking holidays over the past few years. It might sound a little sacrilegious to some, but I think celebrating the resurrection is an excellent excuse to dust off that fabulous classic cocktail, the Corpse Reviver.

Much like Snakes on a Plane, the name holds very little subtlety about its purpose. It was popularized in the 1930s by Harry Craddock, head bartender at London’s Savoy Hotel and writer of the Savoy Cocktail Book, as a way to reanimate one’s self after a rough night. While hangover-reducing type drinks had long existed, this series of “morning glory” cocktails possessed a certain groundbreaking elegance. They were more sophisticated than just putting booze and spices in some sort of juice, shaking it a few times and saying, “There ya go, kid. You’ll live to see another day.”

Photo courtesy Reese C Lloyd via Flickr/CC
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Corpse Reviver No. 2
The book lists two versions, both quite different from each other. Some may find the No. 1 a little sweet, so I have suggested a variation with bitters and some dry Vermouth. A “perfect” Corpse Reviver No. 1, if you will.

The No. 2 has become one of my all time favorite spring and summer drinks, a balanced and refreshing adult lemonade when done right. There is also another rendition made with sparkling wine known simply as the Corpse Reviver, no numbers, which is a pretty great alternative to a Mimosa.

Whichever you choose, be sure to enjoy these powerful cocktails in moderation so you can still partake in the egg hunt and behave at the family dinner. Even Harry Craddock warns that more than three of them could  “unrevive the corpse again.”

Corpse Reviver

1 oz brandy
1 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 oz lemon juice
2 dashes Grenadine (such as Employees Only)
Sparkling Wine

Shake all ingredients except the fizzy with ice. Strain into a medium wine glass (something that will hold about 5 oz). Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with orange or lemon peel (optional).

Corpse Reviver No. 1

1 ½ oz brandy
¾ oz apple brandy
¾ oz sweet Vermouth

(Alternative Ingredients)

1 oz brandy
¾ oz apple brandy
½ oz sweet Vermouth
½ oz dry Vermouth
couple dashes Angostura or Peychaud’s bitters

Whichever version you choose, stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.

Corpse Reviver No. 2

¾ oz dry gin
¾ oz Cointreau (or similar orange liqueur)
¾ oz Lillet Blanc
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 scant dashes Absinthe, pastis or Pernod (Be very economical with this ingredient, a little goes a long way here.)
lemon twist or brandied cherry for garnish

Shake all ingredients except garnish with ice. Strain into chilled coupe or cocktail glass and garnish.

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