Designed as a pick-me-up, the Corpse Reviver Cocktail originally earned its name for the very reason it was designed for. Feeling sleepy? Assuming you follow the recipes made available for the Corpse Revival Cocktail, odds are you won't feel sluggish for long. Made with sweetened ingredients that have high sugar and syrup content, these cocktails definitely have enough potency in them to shift a person from barely awake to full alert within a matter of minutes. Starting in 1961, publications of this alcoholic beverage began to circulate, therefore peaking its popularity. In 1871, the first recipe for it was published in The Gentleman's Table Guide, calling for equal parts brandy and maraschino with two dashes of Boker's bitters, poured into a wine glass. This publication was written by E. Ricket and C. Thomas. It is this recipe that is also recognized on Wikipedia site's description of this oddly named alcoholic beverage. The timeline of the Corpse Reviver Cocktail seems to have begun as of 1860 and shows the original recipe's sugar content to be at thirty-two grams. It shows a recipe before the 1871 publication of The Gentleman's Table Guide and what was featured in the book. The slang term dictionary published in 1889 described this alcoholic beverage as a "corpse-reviver," referencing it as a general rush, as well as a hair of the dog remedy from the previous night's alcoholic binge. In publications as far back as 1861 in London, England, there have been references to Corpse Reviver as a cocktail made by many which ultimately earned a name and a recipe for itself.
20th Century Concoctions
In 1930, The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock offered two recipes for this strangely named cocktail. The Corpse Reviver, Version One, features a quarter shot of Italian vermouth, a quarter shot of apple brandy or calvados, and half regular brandy. In the recipe, there was also the recommendation to consume this not long before the lunch hour as a means to put some pep back into the system as the day drags on. As for the Corpse Reviver, Version Two, the recipe called for equal parts of lemon juice, Kina Lillet, Cointreau, and dry gin, along with a dash of absinthe. According to this version of the recipe, quickly taking in four full drinks of this beverage is enough to kick the sleepiness out of the body without fail. Both versions of this recipe calls for the mixture to be shaken and strained into a cocktail glass. The first of these two recipes published remains the same while the second replaces the Lillet with Swedish Punsch. Also in Duffy's recipe book, there is a third Corpse Reviver recipe, and it calls for a pair of ice cubes thrown into a highball glass, as well as juice from a quarter lemon, and a jigger of Pernod. From there, fill the glass with chilled champagne and you have yourself another alcoholic eye-opener. Over the course of time, there have been several ideas of what makes a good Corpse Reviver Cocktail. Like all cocktails, mixologists have their own recipes of what they feel works best for them and it's always subject to taste. However, the overall goal behind these cocktails is to jolt a person with enough of a sugar rush to snap them out of zombie mode. Like non-alcoholic energy drinks do to the human body, the Corpse Reviver Cocktail is an alcoholic beverage designed to give that needed energy boost so a person can continue the day without feeling so sluggish.
Another purpose for the Corpse Reviver Cocktail was to serve as a hangover cure as a means to recover from the previous night's bout of too much alcohol consumption. Whatever ingredients bartending enthusiasts choose to work with, the biggest common denominator is either brandy or cognac. This was how this beverage was originally published in 1871 and how was published in 1930, as well as in additional publications from a variety of authors since then. It's the sweetness and how it's combined that makes this alcoholic beverage what it is. It also encourages experimenting with different brandies in one's quest to perhaps find that perfect combination, or a series of options, according to one's personal taste. Of the multitude of recipes featured in various bartending publications since 1871, it seems the second version of Harry Craddock's Corpse Reviver Cocktail remains the most popular one enjoyed by consumers. This is the mixture featuring the Cointreau, dry gin, Kina Lillet, lemon juice, and absinthe. Another favorite comes from the 1954 Savoy Corpse Reviver, published by Joe Gilmore, which features a mix of creme de menthe, brandy, Fernet Branca, and a splash of chocolate liqueur. As a winter pick-me-up option, it seems to work. It is a better alternative to layered drinks which are known to be too sweet for consumption.
As far as consumer trends go, the Corpse Reviver Cocktail has also seen its share of ups and downs when it comes to its popularity levels. Lately, it seems to have picked up new levels of interest as another generation of mixologists and consumers seek to experiment with the mix of old and new flavors. Nostalgists will try and favor the classics while trendsetters will attempt to mix new flavors with each other as the liquor industry continues to introduce new products every chance it gets. At one point, certain social stigmas questioned the name behind this alcoholic beverage but it has since become a name that has stuck. And, yes, it's still recommended as a late morning booster shot in order to put some pep back into that step as you carry through your day. Maybe drinking on the job may not be advised, should you have the fortune to go somewhere for lunch perhaps this should be the beverage of choice as a means to breeze through the afternoon without feeling the urge to take a nap.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith