It’s been well over a decade since I covered my first Corpse Reviver, one of a family of similarly named drinks that were supposed to be morning hair-of-the-dog hangover no-cures. To most modern-day drinkers, corpse revivers are quite strong enough to be the whole dog but they also make very nice before or after-dinner drinks. Also, in case you haven’t noticed, this blog has been in remission since late summer of 2022. Why not use one to mark our reemergence into the light?
But why this corpse reviver? It has to do with the fulfillment of my long quest to get my hands on some Swedish punsch. Maybe the last of the many pre-Prohibition products to have been commercially resuscitated in our longrunning cocktail revival. Under the Kronen brand name, a single brand of Swedish punsch has been sold in the US for several years but it took me until last August to finally find some. (I’d tell you where but it was sold out and promptly discontinued!) It offers a very sweet, rich, and somewhat bitter taste that we now associate with tiki drinks, though its history precedes the opening of Trader Vic’s by a minimum of 170+ years.
The Corpse Reviver 2a, as this drink is now called by us boozy anal-retentives, is the most obscure drink to carry the Corpse Reviver name and has an equally murky history to go with it. The story, if you can call it that, is both confusing and kind of boring. (Scroll a few paragraphs down the Wikipedia page if you really want to know.) Suffice it to say it popped up in some mid-20th century cocktail books, including one by “Trader” Vic Bergeron, and moved into obscurity not long after. It will probably remain there until the marketing behind Kronen Swedish Punsch gets more aggressive.
The Corpse Reviver 2a
¾ ounce dry gin
¾ ounce Swedish punsch
¾ ounce Cointreau
¼ teaspoon absinthe or other strong anise liqueur
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
1 orange and lemon twist, garnish
Combine all of the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake very vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sip, appreciate the resuscitated flavor, and contemplate what it might feel like to drink one of these in the morning. Would it be a good or a bad feeling? The answer might be revealing.
While you can try the Corpse Reviver 2a with multiple gins, there are only two types of Swedish punsch at present: Kronen and homemade…and, no, I’m not doing that. I also recommend sticking with Cointreau as I have a dark foreboding about trying this with a run-of-the-mill triple sec. Moving on, in my first round with this drink, I decided to stick with one decent brand of absinthe I had on hand, La Clendestine. After that bottle was left in an obscure corner of the world during a period of temporary exile, I found that all I had left was a super-bottom-shelf emerald green brand called Parnasse. At a quarter teaspoon, this cheapie product has enough anise flavor to do its job, even if it’s way too sweet. One time, I mistakenly added an entire quarter ounce — not the prescribed ¼ teaspoon — and my Corpse Reviver still survived.
Speaking of absinthe, some recipes suggest coating the glass with it and tossing whatever liquid is left, as in a sazerac. I tried that and the result was lame. Even a quarter teaspoon, the 2a needs a more direct application of that strong, licorice-like flavor to center it.
As for the gins, I first tried Plymouth Gin. It is by no means sweet in flavor but it is notably sweeter than standard London dry and worked well enough. That left the more usual and less expensive brands: Bombay Sapphire, Gilbey’s, and Gordon’s. Gilbey’s has a few not-so-great tasting notes and Sapphire is great but maybe a little too busy with a drink that already has lots going on. Value-priced Gordon’s is very mixable and understated and did great here. Later, I tried it again with citrus-heavy Tanqueray Rangpur and it wasn’t bad.
All in all, Corpse Reviver stands up with the rest of this fine series. When it comes to resurrection and corpse revival, I’m mostly for it if it can be guaranteed 100% cannibalism free.
Tags: cocktails, Drink of the Week, gin, gin cocktails, Swedish punsch