Morning restoratives, or corpse revivers, were initially created when someone had the brilliant thought to combine bitters with their morning slings. Mind you, consuming morning slings was a customary practice at the time, adding bitters was the novelty. After a night of heavy drinking, what better way to clear the head, settle the stomach, and calm the nerves than a dram of booze, a couple dashes of bitters, and a little sweetener to mellow it all out.
These eye openers, fog cutters, and morning glories came in many forms and included almost anything that could potentially soften the effects of a hangover. Therefore, the ingredients were often a matter of taste. Perhaps the chosen cure combined a bit of milk and sugar mixed with your morning dram. After absinthe became popular, it often found its way into many anti-fogmatics, mostly because of its refreshing flavor and stomach settling powers. Its extreme potency was usually tamed with some sweetener and ice. Other pick-me-ups revolved around citrus and employed its tart flavors, not to mention the natural sugars and vitamins, to help bring the sparkle back to eyes clouded over with heaviness. The truth is that when strong morning tipples were common--and we're not talking about today's tame bloody marys and mimosas--everything was fair game. An entire category of drinks, with clever monikers, was devoted to helping the masses face a new day, often in spite of the one before.
Unfortunately, after the onset of Prohibition, only a few survived. And while the practice of partaking in a morning beverage barely survived, its days were also numbered. One thing to be thankful for though, is that the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is still alive and kicking.
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce Lillet
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1 dash absinthe
Shake first four ingredients. Strain into a chilled, absinthe-rinsed cocktail glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry. (I have also seen it garnished with an orange twist.)
Notes on Ingredients: I used Bellringer gin and Absinthe Verte de Fougerolles
Few things in the world are as perfect as a properly made Corpse Reviver No. 2. The only down side is that few things haven't been said about it--this libation is one of the darlings of the cocktail community. From its history to the individual ingredients to the ways those ingredients have changed, thus forever altering the landscape of the beverage, almost every iota of information related to the Corpse Reviver No. 2 has been exposed or unearthed. And why not? It is a wondrous libation. With its four main ingredients in equal portions not only is it elegant and refined, but also easy to remember. And while the intricacy of the flavors is a key part of its success, the touch of absinthe is what truly showcases the beauty of restraint that the Corpse 2 symbolizes. That little hint of anise is where balance is found.
I am not going to bore you with sundry details that you can easily find elsewhere. The important thing is that many people have found inspiration in this cocktail, whether drinkers or bartenders. The Corpse 2 has provoked the creation of new cocktails as numerous bartenders have riffed on its proven recipe. These variations can stand on their own, all of them are unnumbered and therefore their Corpse 2 reference passes unacknowledged. In a series of posts, I plan on further exploring these homages to the Corpse 2. I am sure I will miss some, but it will be a fitting ode to one of my favorite drinks.
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