Today is National Absinthe Day and is as good a day as any to enjoy an absinthe cocktail. Also, as my friend Eva says, “Halloween is Coming,” so as a gentle nod to my two favorite holidays, here is a classic absinthe cocktail designed to wake the dead.
Sometimes when you are feeling like a tortured soul, and your listless knuckles are dragging on the pavement, you need something that will revive your dusty corpse. In centuries gone by, one would grab a potion or a tonic of bitters. Any party savvy troll will tell you (before he eats you) that just the right cocktail will raise your spirits. The Corpse Reviver #2 is just that cocktail. The entire Corpse Reviver cocktail family is pre-prohibition cocktail genius. There are several of these vigor inspiring drinks named simply Corpse Reviver #1, #2, #3 and so on. Numbers one and two are the most famous, as they were featured in the Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock circa 1930. These days the Corpse Reviver #2 is the most popular with the rag-tag bunch of hags and haunts in my association. It is tart and bracing, eye-opening and mouth smackin’; when made well, it is a perfect balance of sweet and tart. The original recipe calls for equal parts gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and Kina Lillet, with just a dash of absinthe. This drink is a great one, full of complexity and charm. Modern drink nerds like myself have started tweaking the recipe and variations on this theme work really well. I once replaced the Lillet Blanc with maraschino liqueur and I have had one with Bols Genever and St. Germain at Craft and Commerce, and both worked really well.
Today, my recipe features Cocchi Americano Aperitivo, which some will tell you is more like the original Kina Lillet Blanc before its recipe was changed. I don’t know if this is true (having never tried the original), but I will say that Cocchi is delicious and makes a very good Corpse Reviver if you use an assertive gin to balance the flavor. I also use Grand Marnier, because that is what I happen to have. As for the absinthe, it provides the drink’s key counterbalance; leave it out and the drink is one-note, add too much and it is overpowering. According to A Taste For Absinthe, you should use four drops of absinthe and three-quarters an ounce each of the other ingredients. I enjoy the bracing note of the absinthe and prefer approximately seven drops.
The Corpse Reviver #2
3/4 ounce Ballast Point Old Grove Gin (This gin has nice citrus notes, but try your favorite)
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier
3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
7 drops absinthe
Shake the contents vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. You can garnish if you want but nothing will revive the embalmed neon red things that pass for maraschino cherries.
With a name like The Corps Reviver #2, this drink is a great fit for your zombie party or for Halloween. Remember, however, to drink with caution; in the immortal words of Harry Craddock, “four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again!”