30/30, #5: Corpse Reviver #1, and then some

It’s been a while since I’ve fully visited the range of drinks that were variously known as corpse revivers, fog cutters, gloom chasers and what have you — regardless of the moniker, the drinks that were designed to be consumed at a relatively early hour to dispel the effects of a long night before.

Thanks to Ted Haigh — who propelled the Corpse Reviver #2 out of obscurity and into ubiquity (at least at craft-cocktail establishments) when he included it in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, now poised to retake the bibulous world in an expanded edition — the corpse reviver category has (sorry) returned from the dead. Somewhat, that is.

For there to be a #2, there has to be a #1 — but as with many freshman efforts, the initial entry into the category (at least, the one that was dubbed #1 in 1930s bar manuals by Harry Craddock and Patrick Duffy) has been overshadowed by its more illustrious successor. In the case of the Corpse Reviver, this is as it should be — while version #1 is certainly nothing to sneeze at, it lacks the delicacy of the #2; plus, if the directions are followed to the letter, it’s an ass-kicker. Let’s take a quick look –

Corpse Reviver #1

  • 1 1/2 ounces brandy
  • 3/4 ounce apple brandy
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth

Stir well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Hit it with a lemon peel, if you like.

Short, sharp and strong — not bad, but nothing that remarkable. No wonder it faded.

But, a year or so back, I was served a variation on this drink by Jamie Boudreau. Jamie freshened up the CR1 by using pommeau de normandie in place of the apple brandy; this reduced the alcohol level of the cocktail, making it a bit more managable, while also bumping up the fruitiness factor without adding extra sweetness. Rounded off with peach bitters and Angostura, and the Corpse Reviver #1 had a — sorry again — new lease on life. Here’s Jamie’s version, the Naramata:


  • 1 1/2 ounces cognac
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth (Cinzano recommended)
  • 3/4 ounce pommeau de normandie
  • 2 dashes peach bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Flame an orange twist over the drink and use as garnish.

I tried a few versions of this drink; while the impulse is always there to reach for a premium vermouth like Carpano Antica, it most assuredly does not work in this cocktail. The Antica has such a strong flavor that it overwhelms the pommeau; instead I used Martini & Rossi as it’s my workhorse sweet vermouth, and it seemed to work well in this drink. Also, I eschewed the cognac recommendation and instead went with Armagnac, reasoning that the more rugged, earthy flavor could lend an interesting angle to the drink. I doubt I could tell a Naramata made with cognac from one made with armagnac in a blind tasting, but the Armagnac did its job well and I have no complaints.

Anyway, this is another drink I’ve been thinking about for a long while, dusted off for the new millenia.

This drink is part of 30/30, a series of 30 drinks in 30 days — or as much as I can keep up before collapsing in a weary, booze-addled heap.

2 Responses to 30/30, #5: Corpse Reviver #1, and then some

  1. Andrew says:

    Making the Naramata this evening, I substituted Apfelkorn for the pommeau de normandie. It turned out to be quite tasty. Of course, I have no idea what it would taste like with the pommeau de normandie, but the drink wasn’t overly sweet, which was what I was worried about.

    Anyway, really enjoying the series (the Savoy Tango was also a big hit).

  2. Nathan says:

    The other recipe commonly listed as the CR1 contains equal parts brandy, Fernet Branca and creme de menthe. That was my first experience with the Corpse Reviver family and, I believe, the first classic cocktail I ever tried. Fortunately, it didn’t scare me away–in fact it was an eye-opening peek beyond the dull mixed drinks I usually made myself. From there I picked up a bottle of Maraschino to make Aviations and began my descent into obsession.

    I’m sipping a Naramata, using Apfelkorn as well, and I like it. In a fit of absent-mindedness I used Martin Miller’s the first time, which I don’t recommend.

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