Aspen Times Weekly Bar Talk: Corpse Revivers

Rose Laudicina
Special to The Aspen Times
Corpse Reviver #2
Rose Laudicina

On Sunday I went searching for a cocktail. What I found was a classic gin drink with a name more apt for October that inspired a dive into history at a Roaring Fork Valley institution.

When I wandered into the venerable Woody Creek Tavern, I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to cocktails.

More known as a place to sidle up to the bar for a beer and a shot or to enjoy a well-made margarita on the patio, the Woody Creek Tavern hasn’t always stocked all the ingredients needed to craft pre-Prohibition cocktails, until the new owners and general manager took over this favorite of locals and tourists alike.

Now, with a fully stocked bar, although still a barebones cocktail list, you can be served up cocktail classics such as the Corpse Reviver #2. Since it’s not on the menu, the bartender recommended it to me, after I said I like gin and was looking for a fun Sunday cocktail that wasn’t a typical pick.

Made with equal parts gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and served in an Absinthe-washed coupe glass and garnished with an orange peel, the Corpse Reviver #2 is, of course, well balanced, smooth up front, mildly tart on the finish and all around an extremely pleasant drink experience. I would happily imbibe in one or two if I’m looking for a brunch cocktail and I don’t want to go with a typical mimosa, bloody or Bellini. I’d also turn to this gin drink while enjoying a warm day on the patio, as it’s not sticky sweet or heavy but rather refreshing and light.

As the number in the name implies, the cocktail is just one variation of the Corpse Reviver.

According to the digging I did on the Internet, the original Corpse Reviver recipe can be found in the 1871 “Gentleman’s Table Guide” and is made with brandy, maraschino and bitters. It was advertised as a good drink when you needed a little “hair of the dog” to get you by.

The recipe for Corpse Reviver #2, the most popular variety, was published in Harry Craddock’s 1930 “Savoy Cocktail Book,” again touting the cocktail as one to serve if someone is looking to be brought back to life. 

Corpse Reviver #2
Rose Laudicina

Corpse Reviver #3 and #4 soon followed, and now there are a bevy of these revivers on bar menus across the globe.

More often than not, a reviver is considered a brunch drink or something to be consumed by those who are feeling the effects of last night’s choices.

Corpse Revivers are a refreshing, stiff drink that are palatable by most and followed by claims that they can make you feel better or bring you back from the dead. 

While you won’t find the Corpse Reviver #2 on the Woody Creek Tavern printed menu, the bar staff is knowledgeable, and the bar is loaded with everything needed to make this drink and other cocktail classics, so go ahead and chat with your bartender about the possibilities.