The Corpse Reviver

by MSO
Bartender Harry Craddock inventor of the Corpse Reviver #2.

Harry Craddock was a legendary bartender who invented the Corpse Reviver #2 at the American Bar in the Savoy Hotel during the 1920s.

Although the Corpse Reviver sounds like it will bring someone back from the dead, it really is just a bit of the “hair of the dog” remedy after a night of imbibing a little too heavily. Usually drinks with death related names refer to the strength and amount of the alcohol content and who among us can resist the challenge? Other death related drinks such as Purgatory, The Last Word, Suicide, Devil’s Poison, Black Death and more are all relatively recent inventions of mixologists and aren’t recommended as hangover cures but the Corpse Reviver has been popular for its taste and its cure for more than 150 years.

The original recipe for the Corpse Reviver contained cognac, apple brandy and vermouth and was first mentioned in 1863 in a book called “Cups and Their Customs” but it wasn’t until U.S/U.K bartender Harry Craddock invented the Corpse Reviver #2 that the drink became world famous. Craddock, one of the world’s most celebrated bartenders, was born in the U.K but emigrated to the U.S. in 1897 at the age of 21. During Prohibition, he moved back to London where he was head bartender at the Savoy Hotel’s  American Bar and published his recipes in the Savoy Cocktail Handbook. In it he recommended “Four of these taken in quick succession will un-revive the corpse again”  and that they “should be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed.”

Corpse Reviver #2

3/4 ounce Gin
3/4 ounce Lemon Juice
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc
Dash of Absinthe
Shake with ice, strain ice and serve in a cocktail glass

Craddock also developed an unusual habit of burying (completely encased with cement) full shakers of his drinks into the walls of the bars where he was working. Unfortunately, Craddock died a poor man and had no funeral so in honor of the 50th anniversary of his death in 2013, bartenders from around the world gathered at his gravesite in London. The current bartender at the American Bar poured him a Corpse Reviver, and they all toasted the legendary bartender. They also filled shakers full of Craddock’s concoctions and buried them in a wall of the Savoy Hotel in remembrance.

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