Ode to the Corpse Reviver: Brandy-Based Versions

What do the Frank Sullivan Cocktail, the Hey Hey Cocktail, the Hoop-La Cocktail and the Odd McIntyre Cocktail have in common? Well, everything. All four brandy-based Corpse Revivers No. 2 not only contain the same ingredients in the same proportions and are made the same way, but they also were all created at roughly the same time and introduced in the same cocktail guide. With over 750 recipes collected in the Savoy Cocktail Book, it is not surprising that there are duplicates. But quadruplicates? Considering that three of the recipes are within pages of one another, this oversight seems excessive. But with scant details available about how the Savoy was actually compiled--monumental task that it must have been--our curiosity is left hanging in the breeze. Even inside its pages, if information is even provided about a cocktail's provenance, and often it is not, few explanations are given. The truth is that not much can illuminate the mysteries and odd curiosities (i.e., mistakes) many have discovered within the Savoy's covers. Perhaps only Mr. Craddock knows the answers, though it seems he took his insights to the grave.

While a great number of the recipes included in the Savoy were pilfered from earlier cocktail books--which is just one reason why it is such a complete source--these four cocktails appear to be Harry Craddock creations. After doing a cursory search, I wasn't able to locate these cocktails in any of the cocktail volumes I have at home that predate the Savoy. This is by no means conclusive, as I don't own that many books and any one of these cocktails could pop up in a more obscure tome.  But considering that Craddock is widely acknowledged as the creator of the Corpse Reviver No. 2, a nearly identical cocktail, attributing these cocktails to him seems reasonable. When the differences boil down to a simple ingredient swap and the omission of a rinse, this conclusion hardly requires a leap of faith.

And though it may seem like their presence in the Savoy amounts to just filler, especially considering the repetitiveness, each of these cocktails had its own trajectory on the way to more modern audiences. Though more modern in this case only spans about 10 years. Ultimately, they were just as doomed as almost every other cocktail created before or during Prohibition--not much made it past the vodka-soaked black hole that was the 1950s. And while their gin-based cousin has been resurrected as the darling of the cocktail world, it would be hard to argue that any one of the Frank Sullivan, Odd McIntyre, Hoop-La or Hey Hey is widely known even among cocktail enthusiasts or revivalist bartenders. The history is what you would expect for an obscure drink created in the 1930s. After approximately 1937, it was hard to locate these drinks in cocktail guides--as shown by their omission in both David Embury's Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1958) and Esquire's Handbook for Hosts (1949). That said, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 didn't make the cut either. But putting all of this aside, perhaps the most interesting facet of each drink's history is the way that later bar book authors dealt with them, collectively. I mean what do you do with a drink that has four different names.

Approved Cocktails (1934)

By 1934, the Savoy Cocktail Book had been reprinted many times and the Savoy Hotel and many other drinking establishments were primed for the swarms of Americans fleeing the restrictions of Prohibition. British cocktails, it seemed, had officially arrived. To deal with the unruly flocks, the newly formed UK Bartender's Guild published the bar book, Approved Cocktails, to standardize recipes across the industry and help bartenders avoid using the same names for different drinks. Harry Craddock happened to be the president of the Guild at the time. So, how did they choose to deal with four identical brandy Revivers? The Hoop La and the Odd McIntyre are listed in the main recipe section and retain their identical recipes. The Frank Sullivan is listed in a special section of cocktails whose recipes are available only upon request. But the Hey Hey is not mentioned at all. Interestingly, while two different Corpse Revivers (Corpse Reviver and Corpse Reviver Liqueur) are both listed in the pages-long section devoted to cocktails not specifically included, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is nowhere to be found.

"Cocktail Bill" Boothby's World Drinks and How to Mix Them (1934 Reprint)

Whoever compiled the 1934 reprint of Cocktail Bill's World Drinks--Bill Boothby having died in 1930--for some reason chose to handle these four cocktails differently. Though no reasoning is included, three can be found among its pages, though two of them have been varied slightly. (Note, the first edition of World Drinks was published in 1930. Though it is unlikely, I wonder if any of these drinks were included in its pages.) To start, the Odd McIntyre has been omitted completely. The Hoopla Cocktail calls for equal parts of cognac, Lillet, lemon juice and Cointreau, which matches the initial Savoy recipe. The Hey Hey is almost identical, except that in place of cognac, it calls for brandy. What are the differences between brandy and cognac? The answer is underwhelming. Technically, brandy is a distillate made of a fruit, most notably grapes. This distillate is then barrel-aged by law in most of Europe, though standards are more lenient elsewhere in the world. Cognac, on the other hand, is a specific type of brandy distilled in a very limited geographic area according to very specific rules that concern all facets of production. So while the recipes seem different, depending on interpretation, the resulting beverage could be the same. The Frank Sullivan, however, matches the Hoopla except that instead of lemon juice, the recipe calls for sour mix, usually a mixture of lemon juice and/or lime juice and sugar. This is the most drastic change as the basic equal parts recipe has been lost in favor of a sweeter drink.

Cafe Royal Cocktail Book (1937)

 The UKBG's Approved Cocktails was the organization's initial publication and it was intended for industry members. It was only printed once and with a limited print run. With the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, the Guild sought to raise money for charity while also compiling the creations of then-current British bartenders. William J. Tarling, head barman at the Cafe Royal in London, founding member of the UK Bartender's Guild, and in 1937 president of the Guild, started with the 125-page Approved Cocktails and expanded it to include 213 pages of recipes. Many of the the new drinks were furnished by his contemporaries. It has been said that the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book is a rebuttal to the Savoy Cocktail Book. Perhaps it was, because rather than simply collecting every recipe under the sun, Tarling sought to "give a selection of the most suitable cocktails." There is even a section of omitted cocktail recipes, like in Approved Cocktails, that are available upon request. Perhaps there was even a bit of competition between these two leaders in their field. After all, both served as president of the Guild and both compiled important cocktail guides. Craddock was also an American transplant, while Tarling was British. Could this have been an issue as well? Speculation is all that remains, and any potential arguments seem to pile up quickly.

But what about the four identical brandy-based Revivers? Tarling only included the Hoop La with the Savoy's recipe. The Odd McIntyre and Frank Sullivan are still included though they have been relegated to the Supplementary List of Cocktails in the back. The Hey Hey Cocktail is still missing. It is curious to note that the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is not included in the main recipe section either, or specifically listed in the back. Like in Approved Cocktails, however, a Corpse Reviver (without number or detail) and the Corpse Reviver Liqueur (whatever that is) are both still included the Supplementary List.

Odd McIntyre (or the Hey Hey Cocktail, Hoopla, Frank Sullivan)

3/4 ounce cognac
3/4 ounce Lillet
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce Cointreau

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 Notes on Ingredients: I used Paul Masson VSOP brandy.

1948 and Beyond

Interestingly enough, as later cocktail books began culling recipes from earlier times these four cocktails actually stood a chance at revival. For example, in the 1948 edition of Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide, all four recipes have been resurrected. This cocktail book is a regular treasure trove of old recipes that had long since fallen out of rotation, many of them from during and before Prohibition. The Frank Sullivan matches its respective Savoy recipe, while the Hey Hey and the Hoop La simply refer back to the Frank Sullivan. The Odd McIntyre calls for brandy in place of cognac, though everything else is identical. It is strange that Trader Vic also includes this variance that so evokes Boothby's 1934 reprint. Even more curious, is that in Boothby's book, it is the Hey Hey that calls for brandy.

Astoundingly enough, two of these cocktails even made it all the way into volume seven of the diffordsguide, which was published in 2008, but with substantial changes. Both the Frank Sullivan and the Hoopla are included, though the Lillet has been replaced with dry vermouth. The Hoopla has also gained an egg white. Who knows where these changes came from. Though the provenance records the Savoy as the starting point for both, the proportions, the egg white (in the Hoopla) and the dry vermouth point to serious adaptations. And don't forget the sugar rim. The cocktail resembles the Sidecar more than the Corpse 2, though the Sidecar is a common predecessor for both. It just goes to show that in eighty years a lot can happen to a cocktail.