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Archive for January, 2009

Corpse Reviver #2 – Wow

Posted by Reese On January - 10 - 2009

As I sit here sipping what will likely be my last Corpse Reviver #2 for the week I’m still in shock about how great this cocktail truly is.  I had heard a great deal of praise while researching on the web, but didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have.  I didn’t even stray from the recipe I listed at the beginning of the week much.  It really wasn’t necessary this time.  The results of these two weeks of cocktail enjoyment are nearly a full page of notes and I write damn tiny, so let me distill them down for you.

Corpse Reviver #2

To start let’s talk absinthe or a substitute if need be.  Gary’s recipe says to go easy and although I agree I think you can be pretty liberal in your application of a dash in this case.  I tried everything from a very small dash (6 drops or so) all the way up to a full 1/4 oz.  Although I did find the absinthe started to overpower the other flavors when you got up to 1/4 oz I still didn’t find it unpleasant.  Now in the spirit of full disclosure I will say that I am a black licorice fanatic and as such don’t find the anise flavor at all off putting.  After the numerous experiments I’ve landed on an amount that I prefer, 1 tsp.  This gives the drink a nice absinthe note without making it the star of the show.  If you’re not a huge fan of the anise flavor try dropping the dose down to 1/2 tsp, but certainly don’t get rid of it all together.

I found this drink, at least using Gary’s recipe, to be nicely balanced and really quite incredible.  In fact, my first tasting note when drinking the first CR #2 of the week was “Very fantastic cocktail!”  The fruitiness of the Lillet (primarily citrus) plays exceedingly well with the Cointreau and lemon juice.  I can certainly see this cocktail being a good morning bolster or hair of the dog, but I’ll keep it in the evenings.  I think my employer will prefer that as well.

There is, however, still the slight issue of bitterness that I touched on earlier this week.  I solved this problem with orange bitters.  I tried Regan’s to start and found they worked well, adding a bitter note and some depth of flavor.  However, the real winner in the bitters category for this cocktail are Angostura Orange Bitters which are absolutely fantastic in the CR #2.  These added the amount of bitterness I was looking for and the orange flavor blends with the other ingredients really well.  If you’re interested in stocking up on orange bitters offers a three pack that includes Angostura Orange, Regan’s Orange and Fee Brothers’ Orange bitters in one pack.  I’ve found that all three are quite good but different enough that they have specific applications.

Last, but certainly not least, at least not in my house, is the choice of gin.  As with most gin cocktails I spent most of my time mixing with Plymouth.  This is certainly not a bad choice, never is in my opinion, but I think you can do better.  The other flavors in this cocktail are strong and as such need a strong gin to compliment them.  I’d go for something with a strong juniper character such as Juniper Green or even Gordon’s.  My favorite was a locally produced micro distilled gin that just recently came on the market, Roundhouse.  This gin, which I’ll be reviewing soon, is really strongly herbal in a fantastically good way.  It has enough flavor of its own that it doesn’t get lost in the CR #2 and adds a huge depth of flavor that I found really pleasing.  If you can find a bottle, which is not likely outside of Boulder/Longmont right now, definitely give it a go.

My recipe for the CR #2 is almost identical to the one listed in The Joy of Mixology with the one twist that I call for the addition of bitters.  There are however a ton of other recipes out there.  Rick over at Kaiser Penguin mixed up some of the others and has his comments here.

Corpse Reviver #2 (CH Recipe)
3/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 tsp Absinthe
3 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
1) Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.
2) Shake until thoroughly chilled.
3) Strain into a cocktail glass.

I’ll leave you with the words of Harry Cradock himself, “Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again”.  Well said Harry, well said.

Phylogenetic Tree of Mixed Drinks

Posted by Reese On January - 10 - 2009

Jim Harriman of has created an amazing family tree of drinks using each drink’s ingredients as genes. The result is pretty cool. Read his write up for more information.

I think this kind of analysis could really be very interesting if you added some more metadata to the party.  Perhaps information such as Gary Regan’s drink categories.  I think it could show some interesting relationships between cocktails.  A project for the future indeed.

If you’re interested in some of the science here are some links you might like.

Phylogeny on Wikipedia

PHYLIP – The software package used to crunch the data

My sourceMake Magazine

Corpse Reviver #1 – Big Glass o’ Brown Spirits

Posted by Reese On January - 9 - 2009

This week I’ve been focusing most of my efforts on the Corpse Reviver #2.  In the intro post I mentioned that there was also a Corpse Reviver #1 in the Savoy Cocktail Book.  Feeling a need to do my due diligence I mixed up the CR #1 to get an idea what it was like.  The first thing I have down in my notes is that it’s a “Big glass o’ brown spirits” and that it truly is.

Corpse Reviver #1

This cocktail makes the applejack the true star of the show.  It is only very lightly adulterated by the addition of sweet vermouth and brandy.  I found this drink to be very dry and overall only okay.  It wasn’t particularly balanced and tasted like a less well thought out Manhattan.  I noted that the addition of bitters might help to add some additional dimension to the flavor profile.  But, if you’re going to start adding ingredients like bitters and changing the ratios then I think you’d be better off just making a Manhattan with applejack.  We already know that mixture is a winner.  I’ll leave you with a comment from Diffords Guide #7.  This drink is “Dry and potent.”  Well said indeed.

Calling and Greeting Cards!

Posted by Reese On January - 8 - 2009

I’ve been waiting about 3 weeks for these and I’m quite excited.  Below are pictures of my new greeting cards and calling cards from  Moo allows you to print cards with pictures directly from your flickr stream and you can customize the backs as well.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Calling Cards and Greeting Cards from

Greeting Cards from

Calling Cards from

Lillet – Searching for a bit of extra Kina

Posted by Reese On January - 6 - 2009

This week’s cocktail, specifically the Corpse Reviver #2, calls for the use of Lillet Blanc.  Not having any experience with this ingredient I did I bit of digging and sampling.  Lillet is an French aperitif wine produced in Bordeaux.  The flavor is that of a sweet fruity white wine.  The fruit flavors lean primarily towards citrus but there are hints of others in there as well.  There are slight herbal notes but they are much more subtle than those in vermouth.  Overall I really like Lillet Blanc and could see myself enjoying it on its own over ice with an orange garnish.


Problem is, although the Corpse Reviver #2 was intended to use Lillet, the Lillet they had back then, and as recent as 1986, isn’t the Lillet we have today.  The original Kina Lillet was considered a tonic wine due to the fact that it contained quinine.  This quinine was added through the infusion of cinchona bark (Kina Kina in Peruvian).  However, come the late 80’s the Lillet company decided to modernize it’s brand and dropped the Kina from the name and a large part of the flavor along with it.  The aperitif recipe was changed to be less sweet and considerably less bitter.  Therein lies the rub you see.  This recipe needs a bitter component to offset the sweet and sour.  That’s no longer present.

So, what’s a hacker to do?  Well in doing a bit of poking around I came across Erik Ellestad’s write ups on his site, Underhill-Lounge.  Seems I’m not the only cocktail enthusiast in search of a replacement for the original Kina Lillet.  In his search he’s found a replacement that is said to be very similar to the original Kina Lillet, namely, Cocchi Americano.  After calling around to the major liquor stores in the Boulder/Denver area and checking the web I couldn’t find a ready source however, so I decided I’d try a hack Erik mentioned in his first post.  Some folks have tried infusing Lillet with cinchona bark on their own.  Since I had some cinchona on hand from my homemade tonic I was ready to give it a go.

Infusing Lillet with Cinchona

I started with a cup of Lillet and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of cinchona powder.  I combined them and shook until it was all well blended.  I let the cichona steep for 15 minutes then strained using my custom straining rig.  My rig is a coffee filter clipped to the inside of a funnel and placed in to the bottom half of my strainer.  This filter setup worked wonderfully!

Straining the Infused Lillet

The results were a copper colored Lillet that was exceedingly bitter, much too bitter in fact.  This info in hand I tried again.  Round two I mixed a cup of Lillet with 1/2 Tablespoon of cinchona.  I shook again and let this mixture steep for 10 minutes.  Once fully steeped I filtered the Lillet.  This time the infusion was much more pallatable but still not what I was looking for.   Not wanting to waste any more of my Lillet on failed experiments I decided a better way to add the bitterness I was looking for would be to simply use orange bitters.  More on that later in the week.

Erik, on the other hand, didn’t stop there.  His latest endevour, linked above, is to create his own infused wine a la Kina Lillet.  I look forward to hearing about the results.  If you’re interested in more of Erik’s cocktail comments, check out his work on “Stomping though the Savoy” on eGullet.  He’s making one cocktail at a time from The Savoy Cocktail Book.