The Corpse Revival is a variation on the classic Corpse Reviver #2 cocktail… (Lenny Gilmore/RedEye )
Candy corn shots. Caramel appletinis. Blood orange punch. Why does Halloween season drinking have to jack up your blood sugar faster than a bag of fun-size Snickers bars? If the thought of sucking down another pumpkin-flavored anything makes you want to hurl into your Gandalf hat, a classic cocktail such as the Corpse Reviver could be just your style.
Despite the spooky name, Corpse Revivers weren't created with the undead in mind -- in fact, they were concocted as an energizer. "It was kind of like the Red Bull of the day," said mixologist Revae Schneider of cocktail consulting company Femme du Coupe. That's exactly why the drink's creator, Harry Craddock, recommended imbibing them before 11 a.m. He created two styles of Corpse Reviver, each intended as a hangover cure: The #1, a cognac-based drink, and the #2, a gin drink. If you spend your Halloween night in true zombie fashion--shuffling down the street, drooling and mindless--then a few of these the next morning should revive you faster than a hickey from Edward Cullen.
Craddock first invented the drinks while bartending in London during the 1920s and '30s, making them at least as old as their hair-of-the-dog cousin, the bloody mary. And while the bloody mary easily is the more popular hangover helper, Corpse Revivers are popping up on more cocktail menus around town.
Three-month-old Wicker Park restaurant and bar The Savoy takes its mixology cues (and its name) from Craddock's famous 1930 cocktail book, where the Corpse Reviver recipes were first printed. "They're classics for a reason," said bartender Deidre Darling. "It's fun to hearken back to where cocktails started." Darling combines classic recipes with modern, small-batch liquors. Her spin on the #2, called the Corpse Revival, is made with St. George Dry Rye gin, lemon bitters, Pineau des Charentes aperitif wine and, of course, a kiss of absinthe -- all of which make it less boozy-tasting than the #1. "The #1 is traditionally more stiff," she said. "The #2 is accessible and classic at the same time, and it makes it easier to get into the whole trend."
Schneider agrees, citing the #2's citrus notes as the key to putting that pep in your step, as well as its popularity. "When you see a Corpse Reviver on a menu, that's usually what you're seeing," she said. "You're more likely to have them over and over, because your stomach isn't overwhelmed by sugar." The #2 prevails as a sweet-but-not-too-sweet classic, lighter than the less-popular #1 without being sickeningly saccharine. And when so many Halloween-specific cocktails seem designed to give you cavities along with your buzz, this de-zombifying classic can hit the spot. If you're going to order one, though, stick to places where it's featured on the menu, as the proportions are easy to get frightfully wrong. "If you put in even a little too much absinthe, it can really throw off the balance," said Schneider. "It's a great, refreshing cocktail, but it's really complex."
5 SPOTS TO SIP CORPSE REVIVERS
1408 Milwaukee Ave. 773-698-6925
Try: Corpse Reviver #1 ($12) made with Carpano Antica vermouth, cider cordial, Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac and Tennyson absinthe. The Corpse Revival, made with gin, also is $12.
5347 N. Clark St. 773-275-5725
Try: Corpse Reviver #2 ($12) made with North Shore Mighty gin, Cocchi Americano aperitif wine, Mathilde Orange XO liqueur, lemon juice and Herbsaint, an absinthe-like anise liqueur.
The Barrelhouse Flat
2624 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-857-0421
Try: Corpse Reviver #2 ($11) made with London dry gin, lemon juice, aperitif wine, orange curacao, absinthe and orange bitters.
1321 W. Taylor St. 312-243-1577
Try: Corpse Reviver #2 ($9) made with Plymouth gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice and absinthe.
2853 N. Kedzie Ave. 773-904-8558
Try: In Savoy We Trust #2 ($11), a variation made with Herencia blanco tequila instead of gin along with Leopold Three Pins and Salers Aperitif (both herbal liqueurs), lemon juice and roasted kombu, a type of seaweed.
Tom VanBuren is a RedEye special contributor. email@example.com | @redeyeeats