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.
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 Kegworks.com 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.