Spirits: Bringing back the dead
This week, I deal with a category of old-time drinks called corpse revivers, which in the late-19th and early-20th century were intended as morning cocktails. Frankly, I find it unbelievable that people were able to function at work after a drink that includes gin and a dash of absinthe. But if that's what many people were drinking, I guess it's not a huge surprise that many others were calling for Prohibition. We are a land of extremes.
Anyway, I included a classic recipe for Corpse Reviver No. 2. When I served one of these to friends, one reasonably asked, "So what's the Corpse Reviver Number 1?" Another asked, "Is there a Corpse Reviver Three and Four?" Those are very good questions, ones that I will answer here.
Though there seem to have been dozens of local Corpse Reviver variations before Prohibition, Harry Craddock in his 1930 "The Savoy Cocktail Book" lists only two. Since Craddock's book is essentially an encyclopedia of drinks that survived Prohibition, two Corpse Revivers are all we have on record. All the other local variations have been lost.
Corpse Reviver No. 1 is very different than No. 2. It's not a relative of the sidecar or daisy, and does not call for lemon juice or orange liqueur. Rather, this is a boozy drink calling for two brandies and sweet vermouth. For the main brandy, use a either a VSOP cognac or the good-value German brandy Asbach Uralt. For the apple brandy, I recommend either Calvados or Laird's Bonded Straight Apple Brandy (100-proof).
To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure what makes this a morning eye-opener. But if it was, I cannot imagine what the workday was like in, say, 1910. In 2010, I would recommend sipping this in the evening, after work.
-- Jason Wilson
(Follow him on Twitter, and look for his book, "Boozehound," coming in September from Ten Speed Press.)
Corpse Reviver No. 1
For the main brandy, use a either a VSOP cognac or the good-value German brandy Asbach Uralt. For the apple brandy, I recommend either Calvados or Laird's Bonded Straight Apple Brandy (100-proof).
To be perfectly honest, it's not clear what makes this a morning eye-opener. But if it was, I cannot imagine what the workday was like in, say, 1910.
Adapted from "The Savoy Cocktail Book," by Harry Craddock (Constable & Co., 1930).
1 1/2 ounces brandy, preferably Cognac
3/4 ounce apple brandy
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Twist of lemon peel, for garnish
Fill a mixing glass halfway with ice. Add the brandy (Cognac), apple brandy and sweet vermouth. Stir vigorously, then strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist.
Per serving: 180 calories, 0 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar
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