The Corpse Reviver No. 2 belongs to a family of pre-Prohibition cocktails that were consumed for the chief purpose of rousing the drinker from the dead. In other words: They were meant to cure hangovers, increase vigor and otherwise improve one’s morning.
Corpse Revivers can be traced back to at least the 1870s, with many lost to the ravages of time. This version is the best known recipe, although the Corpse Reviver No. 1 (cognac, Calvados, sweet vermouth) is still in rotation today and enjoys occasional placement on bar menus.
Like many Prohibition-era cocktails, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 faded into obscurity over the decades, but it was resuscitated during the aughts as bartenders looked to history for inspiration. Its adoption was driven by the drink’s inclusion in Harry Craddock’s “The Savoy Cocktail Book,” a seminal tome originally published in 1930 that introduced dozens of classic drinks to modern drinkers.
This pick-me-up features gin, Lillet blanc (a French aperitif), orange liqueur and fresh lemon juice. That delicately balanced combination is doled out in equal parts, shaken with ice and served in a glass that has been rinsed with absinthe, a technique that adds aromatics and only a hint of anise flavor to the drink. The result is tart, cold and refreshing, precisely what you need to start the day—or the evening, if you prefer to consume your liquor when the sun’s down.
Today, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is a popular fixture at craft cocktail bars and an occasional option at brunch joints that embrace the drink’s ability to jump-start the morning. If you order one, remember that the cocktail is more potent than it tastes. When in doubt, heed Craddock’s warning: “Four of these taken in swift succession will un-revive the corpse again.”
Click Play to See This Corpse Reviver No. 2 Come Together
- Absinthe, to rinse
- 3/4 ounce London dry gin
- 3/4 ounce Lillet blanc
- 3/4 ounce orange liqueur
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Rinse the inside of a chilled coupe or cocktail glass with absinthe, discard the excess and set the glass aside.
Add the gin, Lillet blanc, orange liqueur and lemon juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into the prepared glass.