The Corpse Reviver is a family of cocktails, best known as hangover or “hair of the dog” cocktails because they are prepared to help get rid of hangovers. There are several variations of this drink, all with the same intended purpose, but most of these recipes are so old that they have been lost and only a part of them are still prepared today. What we still have are the recipes for the Corpse Reviver cocktail and the Corpse Reviver #2, which are listed and mentioned in the Savoy Cocktail Handbook, written by Harry Craddock in 1930.
As you can see, the cocktails are quite old, but we still have their recipes and people still drink them for their alleged benefits. Today people rarely use an alcoholic drink to get over an alcoholic night, but apparently that is precisely what men did in the past; we just have to assume they were tougher drinkers. Research done by others has shown that there are many other Corpse Reviver cocktails out there, but they don’t exactly have much in common. It is very possible most of them were not even invented in the same decade but perhaps later on, even recently, and they got the name Corpse Reviver cocktail because they too were made to cure hangovers.
The most common and popular Corpse Reviver cocktail variation is made with two parts cognac, one part apple brandy – or Calvados – and one part sweet vermouth. The ingredients are stirred with ice and then strained into a chilled cocktail or martini glass. Corpse River #2 has the following ingredients:
The ingredients have to be shaken using a shaker filled with ice and then strained in a chilled cocktail or martini glass. Certain bartenders prefer to add the absinthe lastly, after the rest of the drink has been shaken and poured, or to coat the edges of the glass with it for an extra bit of flavor.
A third variation of the Corpse River cocktail, which doesn’t have anything in common with the first two, appeared in Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide in 1935, and it was prepared by shaking apricot nectar with sweet vermouth and Calvados, and then poured into a cocktail glass. Other than these, there are countless other variations which use all the imaginable and unimaginable ingredients; bartenders all over probably used their expertise with drinks and their effects on the body to each create their own Corpse Revivers; their recipes would then probably become known and popular in their areas, so it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume that each town or state had its own Corpse Reviver cocktail.