Month: August 2014

Corpse Reviver (#1)

corpse reviver #1

A few days ago, I shared a post about the delicious restorative, the Corpse Reviver #2 as I started my vacation.  That same night, after finishing off that cocktail and going to make another, I discovered I had used up my last lemon.  Now, what was I to do?  You can’t very well make a Corpse Reviver #2 without fresh lemon juice, as I covered in the last post.  And then I found my answer, right there in front of me, minus the #2.

The Corpse Reviver, or Corpse Reviver #1 to some, is another entry in the family of curative cocktails like its more popular secondary namesake.  While the #2 is a light, citrus-centric, and cleanly bracing drink, this is a completely different animal.  Brandy based, with a bit extra brandy, and the clean nearly astringent notes of Lilet Blanc and absinthe replaced with the warm and rich notes of sweet vermouth, the Corpse Reviver strikes me as more of an after dinner drink, or a tonic to be fed to someone pulled from icy water, than a morning pick me up.  Warm where the #2 is cool, rich and deep where the #2 is light and refreshing, the Corpse Reviver is still a subtle drink in its own way, and the three ingredients play together just as nicely.

Combine the following in a mixing glass with a modest portion of ice:

Unlike the #2 where we shake the ingredients to combine, thus chilling the drink more, stir the combined ingredients for a moment, just enough to drop the temperature and mix them fully.  Strain into a cocktail glass that you’ve chilled previously in the freezer or by filling with ice before prepping your drink, dumping the ice prior to pouring the drink.

In this instance, I used my go to cognac, Decourtet VS, which is a marvelous cognac and at a price that won’t make you cringe.  I used Laird’s applejack as it’s what I had on hand, though using calvados will impart slightly stronger apple notes with a twinge less of sweetness, in my opinion.  For the vermouth, any sweet Italian vermouth will suffice, though I used my personal favorite, Carpano Antica Formula, using the original recipe created by its namesake, the late 18th century distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the father of the now familiar vermouth.  Carpano Antica is an amazingly rich drink, and well worth picking up for using in cocktails or drinking on its own as an apéritif (the good people at Post Prohibition wrote a wonderful piece about this complex, bittersweet vermouth), and it’s the perfect choice for this recipe, if I may so.

While sharing a name with the Corpse Reviver #2, this is a completely different drink, but just as pleasing in its own way, and well worth a try if you’re a fan of brandy, Manhattans, or simply looking for something warming and comforting.

Corpse Reviver #2

corpse reviver #2

Tonight I officially start a much needed vacation.  In celebration, I decided I needed a tasty libation, and one that would serve as a bit of pick me up after a tiring week of trying to make sure everything would be covered while I’m out of the office for the next week and a half.  What better than a Corpse Reviver #2?

The Corpse Reviver #2 is perhaps the best known cocktail from the Corpse Reviver family of drinks.  Recorded in Craddock’s famous Savoy Cocktail Book, this drink is meant to be a hangover cure.  While I’ve tested having this drink after a particularly hard night of over imbibing, I don’t know if it’s particularly effective for the purpose, but it is a tremendously drinkable, and subtly complex cocktail nonetheless.

Made from equal parts of nearly all of the ingredients, I suppose one should expect a fairly balanced drink, but this is one of my favorite classic cocktails for how marvelously well balanced it is, and how well each ingredient plays off the others.  The sweetness of the Cointreau balanced by the dryness of the gin, played against the tartness of the lemon juice, the slight oily note of the Lilet cut by the other three primary ingredients, all capped by the cool bite of the absinthe which seems to heighten each other ingredient’s more subtle flavors somehow.

To make your own, either as a nice evening cocktail, or when in need of a bit of the hair of the dog that bit you in the morning, mix the following together in a shaker with ice:

  • 1 part gin
  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 1 part Lilet Blanc
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 dashes of absinthe

After a good shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, or coupe if you like, optionally add a maraschino cherry, and enjoy.

A note on the absinthe: some add it to the shaker, others rinse the glass with it.  I typically prefer the latter, as I find it makes the aroma of the absinthe a little more pronounced and present in the drink, but then I am a great drinker of absinthe.  By adding it to the shaker with the other ingredients, you may find it a little mellower, which is a perfectly acceptable option if you’re not a huge fan of absinthe.

For the gin, I chose the wonderfully dry Leopold Brothers offering for its clean, strident taste, but I’ve made this drink with probably close to a dozen different gins and been pleased each time, though I do prefer this with a drier gin typically.

While we’re talking about the specific ingredients let’s talk about substitutions.  If you can’t get your hands on Lilet Blanc, but can find Cocchi Americano, that’s a perfectly fine substitution that won’t tremendously alter the profile of the drink.  For the Cointreau, often times recipes will suggest using triple sec as a replacement for Cointreau, but I really can’t recommend it in this drink.  As I mentioned in my post about the Sidecar, triple sec is sweeter than Cointreau which this drink doesn’t want, and less flavorful, which will unsettle the wonderful balance of this drink.  For that reason, I do implore you, don’t substitute triple sec in for the Cointreau here; the difference is subtle but it is noticeable in my opinion and not in a good way.

While switching out the Cointreau for triple sec isn’t a huge sin, using bottled lemon juice in place of the fresh most definitely is.  You’ll lose the crisp citrus flavor, and instead find acid in its place.  A key to making great cocktails, just like great food, is using fresh, flavorful ingredients, and you should always be using fresh citrus if you can.  I used to occasionally pre-juice citrus for the next few days, but stopped because I found that I’d let a couple days turn into a week or more, and the longer you let it go, the more the flavor changes.  Nowadays, I only juice citrus in advance if I’m going to be making a large number of drinks that day or the following perhaps, and don’t want to be stuck juicing between every drink I’m serving.

It’s been awfully quiet here…

It’s been a few weeks since my last post here, and I apologize for the lack of new content.  I owe you all the next in the Essentials series, the entry on liqueurs, and I’ve actually slated some time this weekend to work on that post.  I think some of the delay can be chalked up to how much of a task getting the essential liquors post put together was, at least getting it to a point where I was happy with it.  That said, I won’t keep you waiting too much longer.

It’s also been quiet as I’ve been on a bit of beer kick lately, and while I’m nearly as passionate about beers as I am cocktails, that’s not what this blog is about.  I promise, I’ll get back to drinking hard liquor as soon as possible, but they tend to frown on doing so here at the office.

In the past weeks I have had a couple opportunities to share some of my creations with friends as various gatherings.  I told myself that I would make sure to take pictures, but between mixing drinks and trying to get some socializing in, I failed to do so.  I’m always excited and more than a little nervous when I make any of my original recipes for people for the first time.  I know that I like the drink, but everyone has a different palate and different preferences, and what may be a hit in my mind is too bitter, or too sweet, or too complicated for someone else.  Luckily, I have some very supportive friends who have been more than happy to indulge me and try some of my drinks, and so far they seemed to have been well received.  Recently, I made a few Jack Rackhams, The Isis, and Sioux City Coolers for some friends who were kind enough to have me and my darling wife over, as well as some of the other guests.  They all seemed to be well liked, with the Jack Rackham being the surprise favorite of the night.  I’m not much of a rum drinker these days, but I was happy to find that this one found favor both amongst avowed rum fans and those that don’t typically drink the spirit, which is great measure of success for me.

At another gathering, I shared around the Sioux City Cooler I had made for myself (as this has quickly become one of my favorite hot weather drinks), and got some good reactions there as well.  That night, the best was getting to make The Preacher for a friend whose character is the namesake and inspiration for that particular cocktail.  Big smile, followed quickly by a second belt from his glass was a hugely satisfying validation.

Finally, I’ve owed another friend a tastes of a couple drinks I wasn’t able to make her at the first gathering, and was able to make good on that promise a couple weeks ago with The Briarpatch, which seemed to be right up her alley.

That’s one of my favorite things about making drinks for people; trying to figure out, based on what I know about them, something that they will like, as well as something that I think speaks to them, or of them.  It’s a funny little esoteric thought, I suppose, being able to capture a personality in a drink, but it’s immensely fulfilling when it works out.  It’s also very nerve-wracking when I can’t work it out, but then, those experiences help me for the next try.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be at Dragon*Con, a yearly tradition for me for the last 19 years.  I’ve missed a couple years in that time, regrettably, but I always look forward to the Con, and spending several days geeking out, seeing good friends, from across the country, and the world, at this point.  Dragon*Con is also a time where the drinks run freely, and so I’m getting ready to make the choices of what I’ll be bringing for my personal bar.  Last year saw me bringing entirely too many bottles; a couple cases of various spirits in addition to a cooler full as well, as I was making a dozen or so new recipes for signature drinks for a group of friends.  This year, I’ll be reeling things in a bit, though I’ll still no doubt end up bringing more than I’m anticipating right now.  Perhaps, you’ll see some shots here of some Experiments from the Bar in the wild, but we shall see…