A few days ago a friend unexpectedly got me thinking about corpse reviver cocktails. You see I was looking for suggestions for some new drinks using Fernet Branca and he (admittedly in a half awake stupor) mentioned the Corpse Reviver #2. Now as any cocktail geek will know, the #2 doesn’t have Fernet in it, but between us we were pretty sure that one of the Corpse Reviver recipes did. And thus a small obsession with that family of drinks began!
Bartenders are often familiar with Corpse Revivers #1 and #2 from The Savoy and their famous Cocktail Book, as these are generally considered to be the first listed examples of this family of drinks, but from time to time people mention others. Within minutes of posting a few queries on Twitter and Facebook, suggestions came pouring in as to where I might find Corpse Reviver recipes listed in various cocktail books, but no one I talked to was clear about whether any of them were numbered or bore any resemblance to those from The Savoy. So my vague curiosity turned from an interest in finding a few recipes into a quest to list the Corpse Revivers in chronological order.
I should probably backtrack a little bit here and explain what a Corpse Reviver actually is. The name is highly evocative and relatively self-explanatory, as they are drinks designed to help you recover from the night before. It seems in days gone by that drinkers where made of pretty stern stuff, as they would stop into a bar for an ‘eye opener’ to get them back into gear for the day ahead. Sure we still have the trusty Bloody Mary, but it was commonplace once upon a time to have a stiff drink that would shock your system back into shape and get you going, hence the Corpse Reviver.