The Corpse Reviver No. 2 tastes like a dream despite its nightmare-inducing name. Learn the history behind this ghoulishly delightful gin cocktail and then craft one at home in just five minutes.
William Shakespeare posed the question “What’s in a name?” when he penned Romeo & Shakespeare in the 1500s, centuries before the first Corpse Reviver was invented in the 1800s. Fast forward to the present and we did the same before we crafted our first Corpse Reviver No. 2.
What Is a Corpse Reviver No. 2 Cocktail?
Despite its colorfully creepy moniker, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is a classic pre-prohibition cocktail that’s crafted with top tier liquors. And, since its ingredient list includes both dry gin and freshly squeezed lemon juice, this sour cocktail isn’t so different from cocktails like the Bee’s Knees, Clover Club and White Lady. However, we think that it’s unique ingredients provide the cocktail with a zippy flavor finish that makes it just a little bit better.
Beyond dry gin and freshly squeezed lemon juice, the Corpse Reviver No. 2’s ingredient list features absinthe, Lillet blanc and orange liqueur. And, for those with extra motivation, garnishing the classic cocktail with a dehydrated orange slice provides an additional bit of panache.
History of the Corpse Reviver No. 2 Cocktail
Originally crafted as ‘hair of the dog’ cocktails for over imbibers, Corpse Revivers date back to the 19th century – clearly a time when people handled hangovers differently than they do today. After all, Corpse Reviver cocktails aren’t exactly lacking in alcohol.
We don’t know whether this cocktail genre lost favor once people realized the counter-productiveness of drinking alcohol as a hangover remedy. However, we do know that time and Prohibition literally buried the Corpse Reviver. It took a London bartender to give new life to the deceased libation.
That bartender, Harry Craddock, included two Corpse Reviver cocktails in his iconic The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930. It was the kickstarter that revived their luster like George Romero did for zombies.
Almost a century later, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 isn’t merely hanging on for dear life. Instead, it’s a popular classic cocktail that’s ordered at bars around the world with neither fear nor dread.
Corpse Reviver No. 2 Ingredients
While the Corpse Reviver No. 2 ingredient list isn’t long, you may need to buy one or more of the following ingredients:
The Corpse Reviver No. 2 isn’t a French cocktail but we exclusively used French liquors when we crafted the cocktail at home. It was an unintentional move but we’re not complaining about the final result . Here’s a quick recap of those four French liquors:
Absinthe: We purchased a bottle of Absente 55 Absinthe for this and other recipes. Produced in France and as its name suggests, the green liqueur has a relatively low ABV of 55%.
Dry Gin: While any quality dry gin will work in this recipe, we chose to use Citadelle dry gin from France. Produced in Cognac, the premium gin features 19 botanicals and has an ABV of 44%.
Lillet Blanc: An aromatized wine, Lillet Blanc is the ingredient that brings the Corpse Reviver to life. It’s basically aged white Bordeaux wine blended with fruit liqueurs (mostly citrus). And, with a 17% ABV, it’s a delightful to drink over ice as an aperitif.
Orange Liqueur: Cointreau is our go-to orange liqueur for cocktail recipes that call for orange liqueur or triple sec as well as for some that don’t. We like Cointreau’s balanced flavor. It has a 40% ABV.
How to Craft a Corpse Reviver No. 2 Cocktail
Despite its spooky name, there are no tricks when it comes to the items required to craft a Corpse Reviver No. 2. In fact, you just the following basic bar tools:
You can improvise if you don’t have a jigger. For example, you can use a small angled measuring cup instead. We used both a jigger and a small angled measuring cup when we crafted this recipe but, then again, we’re over-achievers when it comes to lazy mixology.
Discover 10 necessary bar tools for lazy mixologists.
The first step in this recipe is to add a dash of absinthe to a coupe glass and swirl it around until the absinthe coats the glass. Pour out the absinthe once the glass is coated and set the glass aside.
Next, measure the dry gin, Lillet blanc, orange liqueur and lemon juice and pour each directly into a shaker. For this step, we recommend using a Japanese jigger to ensure accurate measurements and to avoid spillage.
Purchase a Japanese jigger if you don’t have a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Add ice cubes to the shaker and shake until the liquids are chilled and combined. This step should take approximately 20 seconds.
Buy a Boston Shaker from Amazon if you don’t have a cocktail shaker or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Strain the chilled liquids into the absinthe-coated coupe glass.
Buy coupe glasses from Amazon if you want a matching pair for this and other cocktail recipes.
Finally, garnish the cocktail with an orange twist, wedge or wheel.
Go the extra step and dehydrate an orange wheel if you’re cocktail-obsessed like us.
Corpse Reviver 2 Variations
This Corpse Reviver cocktail may or not be your new favorite drink. Either way, feel free to experiment with the following variations:
Corpse Reviver No. 2 FAQs
The potent gin cocktail was intended to double as a hangover cure. Go figure.
There were originally four different Corpse Reviver cocktails. Two (numbers one and two) have passed the test of time. Numbers three and four have kicked the proverbial bucket.
Absinthe, Dry Gin, Lillet Blanc, Orange Liqueur, Fresh Lemon Juice, Ice Cubes (for shaking) and an Orange Twist, Wedge or Wheel (for garnish)
We like to use French dry gin but any dry gin will work.
You can use Cocchi Americano or Dry Vermouth instead of Lillet Blanc.
You can use Pastis instead of Absinthe.
The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is shaken, not stirred.
We like to serve this cocktail in a coupe glass but you could use a small martini glass instead.
Corpse Reviver No. 2 Cocktail Recipe
- 1 dash absinthe
- 1 ounce dry gin
- 1 ounce Lillet blanc
- 1 ounce orange liqueur
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- orange wedge, wheel (fresh or dehydrated) or twist
- Pour absinthe into an empty coupe glass and swirl around so that the inside of the glass develops a light absinthe coating. Discard the absinthe.
- Measure gin, Lillet blanc, orange liqueur and lemon juice and pour each into a shaker.
- Add small ice cubes and shake until the liquids are mixed and chilled - approximately 20 seconds.
- Strain the liquid into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with an orange twist, wedge or wheel.
- You can use a small martini glass instead of a coupe glass.
- You can use cocchi Americano or dry vermouth instead of Lillet blanc.
- You can use pastis instead of absinthe.
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Japanese Jigger - Premium Double Cocktail Jigger, 1oz/2oz made from Stainless Steel 304
Premium Cocktail Shaker Set: Two-Piece Pro Boston Shaker Set. Unweighted 18oz & Weighted 28oz Martini Drink Shaker made from Stainless Steel 304
OXO SteeL Cocktail Strainer
Riedel Veritas Coupe Glasses, Set of 2, Clear
Manual Lemon Lime Squeezer, DZY Metal Rustproof Citrus Press Juicer - Handheld Lemon Juicer with Solid Squeezer Bowl (2.75 inch Diameter), Extracting Lemon Juice and More Fruit
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: October 20, 2022