Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

My Standard Bartender’s Guide (1959 edition) lists three separate corpse revivers, with #1 featuring brandy and vermouth, and #3 lemon, Pernod, and champagne. But #2 seems to get the most attention, because in all likelihood it’s the best. Its acidity is bracing, refreshing; the Lillet and Cointreau give it complexity and the gin gives it some punch.

Its name suggests that it is used to revivify one after over-imbibing, which is a good strategy in the short term, and not so much in the long. Evelyn Waugh had a concoction he called his “Noontime Reviver,” the recipe of which I am still seeking.

I wholly encourage this lovely cocktail at the appropriate evening hour for the reasons stated above; it’s an excellent cocktail. Most recipes for the drink call for a drop or two of absinthe, which would no doubt add an intriguing element, but having none on hand, I’m dispensing with it here.

My actual Friday cocktail hour today will most likely be inexpensive beer in the VIP tent out at Blossom Music Center, where the Dave Matthews Band performs tonight. I tend to relive my youth at these affairs and so, given that this body does not recover as it did in my halcyon collegiate days, I may very well be needing a Corpse Reviver #2 tomorrow.

Happy Friday, all!

Corpse Reviver #2

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 drop absinthe or pastis (optional)
  • Cherry, for garnish
  1. Add all ingredients except the cherry to a cocktail shaker; fill with ice and shake or swirl as you wish.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

If you liked this post on the Corpse Reviver #2, check out these other links:

© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


13 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: Corpse Reviver #2”

  • Dean

    I googled (is that really a verb?) “noontime reviver” and found two mentions in different blogs. The first entry found reads “Touted by Evelyn Waugh as his favorite noontime reviver, it involves filling a champagne flute halfway with cheap bubbly and then floating an equal measure of Guinness on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon”

    The second doesn’t sound much better “a couple ounces gin, a couple ounces ginger beer,
    fill the rest of the glass to the top with Guinness.

    Neither sounds terribly appealing, and given that there no clear provenance for these recipes, it’s questionable whether these are what Waugh had in mind.

    • Michael Ruhlman

      yes, a friend on twitter noted the one with the 3 Gs.

  • Victoria

    I found the recipe for a Corpse Reviver #2 in Julia Reed’s But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria. I I make mine without absinthe or Pernod too and call it The Flavia in honor of Flavia de Luce, the intrepid sleuth in Alan Bradley’s marvelous mystery series that begins with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, because with the Pernod left out, the corpse is not revived.

    It’s a great summer drink even if it does go down VERY easily.

  • Darcie B

    This is the drink that propelled me into a hobby (some might say obsession) of making vintage/craft cocktails. It’s truly more than the sum of its parts. The absinthe/pastis is not optional, IMO. I don’t like that flavor on its own very much, but it makes the drink in this case. Just a drop; don’t overdo it!

    I believe
    I believe that
    I believe that I will
    I believe I will have a CR#2 tonight!

  • Allen

    I’m staying with water. Not going there.
    With a tall glass of water, Cheers, happy Fridays to all

  • Darcie

    Well, I did and I didn’t have a CR#2 tonight. I stopped by the liquor store and picked up some pear liqueur just because. Then I decided that would be a great substitute for the Cointreau. I also decided to muddle some Thai basil instead of digging out the Pernod for a bit of anise flavor. Yum. Needs a name, though…

  • James

    A great cocktail any time of the day or night. Leaving out the absinthe or pastis is a real shame–to me that extra bit of oompf makes the drink. Also lovely with Cocchi Americano in place of the Lillet.

  • Nicholas L. Hall

    Ruhlman, get yourself a bottle of Cocchi Americano and use that in place of the Lillet. Lillet used to have way a good dose of quinine in it, which makes for a significantly different drink. Cocchi brings back that nice bitter bite that helps check the strident acid and sugar in the drink. With Lillet, it’s a good drink. With Cocchi, it’s a great one. You also owe it to yourself to make it again with some absinthe.

  • Ford


    You need an Friday Cocktail Hour I-phone app so all of these wonderful drinks can be at my fingertips when I visit the liquor store or am at a friends house and want to look like a hero! I’d pay for that!