Corpse Reviver

two coups filled with yellow cocktails, on a wood bar, bar equipment scattered around

A fantastic cocktail any time of year.

by Erin Henderson

For years, I avoided the Corpse Reviver cocktail. I (erroneously) believed it to be nothing more than a gimmicky sham – the 1930's equivalent of a "Sex on the Beach" or "Slippery Nipple." The low hanging fruit of bar marketing aimed at pleasure-seekers looking to get right smashed on Hallowe'en.

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I changed my mind sometime in 2010-ish, after receiving the fabulous book, "In the Land of Cocktails" a raucous collection of about 130-or-so drinks written by New Orleans restauranteurs Ti Adelaide and Lally Brennan, first cousins and proprietors of the celebrated New Orleans restaurant Commander's Palace. Cocktail royalty, the pair focus on quality, first, foremost, and only. They dedicate the book, "For bartenders everywhere who care about well-made cocktails."  

The Corpse Reviver Number 2 appears on page 46. If Ti and Lally were including it, I reckoned, I best pay attention. 

While their version uses Herbsaint instead of the traditional Absinthe, the Corpse Reviver is a lively blend of gin, Lillet fortified wine, lemon, and orange-flavoured liqueur. It was christened a Corpse Reviver, not for its links to All Hollow’s Eve, but because the strong concoction had the power rouse the dead – in other words, take a huge chunk out of the dog that bit you, shaking off your hangover so you can get back at it. 

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Nowadays, the Corpse Reviver comes back to life in October when Hallowe'en revellers look for themed cocktails to rehydrate after a rousing Monster Mash. 

However, I think it’s quite refreshing on a summer’s day, and delivers a hit of sunshine that’s needed during the grey months, as well. 

Corpse Reviver

A classic Prohibition cocktail that was named for having the strength to shake off even the most vicious of hangovers – not actually wake the dead. 

Makes: 1 drink
Bartender level: easy

  • 1 tsp Absinthe
  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1 oz orange-flavoured liqueur
  • 1 oz Lillet Blanc
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • Maraschino cherry or lemon twist
How to Make It: 
  1. Give a chilled coup an Absinthe wash: pour the Absinthe into a coup and roll the coup around to coat the glass with the liquor. Pour away the excess.
  2. In a shaker filled with ice, pour the gin through lemon juice, shaking vigorously to chill.
  3. Strain into the Absinthe-rinsed coup, garnish with the cherry or lemon, and serve.


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