Feel like a zombie this morning? Luckily for you, as a public service to the hungover, every week we track down the best bartenders in America and ask them to share their favorite hair-of-the-dog remedies. This week, we’ve got a classic absinthe drink that has been curing the undead for centuries.
THE SPECIALIST: Joaquín Simó, the 2012 American Bartender of the Year and co-founder of Pouring Ribbons bar in New York City’s East Village
HIS ELIXER: Corpse Reviver No. 2
ITS ORIGINS: “Corpse revivers” were hangover remedies popular in the 19th century. In 1930 Harry Craddock, renowned bartender at London’s Savoy Hotel, wrote of the drink in The Savoy Cocktail Book: “[It should] be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed.”
ITS HEALING POWERS: “The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is one of those great default hangover drinks,” Simó explains. “If you wake up and your head is still fuzzy, you don’t want something super boozy. You want something light going down, and this one really fits the bill.”
Simó’s preferred version, the No. 2, shouldn’t be confused with the Corpse Reviver No. 1, a heavy mix of brandy, cognac and vermouth. Instead, the No. 2 is a crisp, gin-based drink with a dash of absinthe, lemon juice, orange liqueur and aperitif wine. Simó makes a slight tweak to that recipe, swapping out the Cointreau and Lillet Blanc for Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao and the rare Cocchi Aperitivo Americano, which he says is a touch drier and not as rich as the Lillet.
Simó recommends ordering the drink at a trusted cocktail bar. But even that isn’t a fail-safe. He recently went to Boston for a friend’s wedding and celebrated into the witching hour at a respectable Commonwealth Avenue cocktail bar. “The next morning, the day of the wedding, I was just dying,” he says. So he returned to the bar and ordered his cure-all Corpse Reviver No. 2. Unfortunately they served him a ghastly Corpse Reviver No. 1. “That was exactly what I didn’t want. I just sat and stared at it in horror.”
The No. 2 isn’t on the menu at Pouring Ribbons—a handsome establishment that rates its cocktails on a scale from Refreshing to Spirituous and Comforting to Adventurous—yet patrons often request it. “The drink has gotten a lot of traction,” he says. “But it frequently gets confused with a zombie"—the trashcan punch you slurp through a neon straw—"and I can think of fewer drinks that I’d rather start the day with than a zombie. That’d really fucking kill me.”
ONE OTHER WORD OF WARNING, PER CRADDOCK: “Four of these taken in swift succession will quickly un-revive the corpse again.”
CORPSE REVIVER NO. 2
- 1 oz. London dry gin
- 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao (or Cointreau)
- 1 oz. Cocchi Aperitivo Americano (or Lillet Blanc)
- Dash of absinthe
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail tin with ice. Shake well. (Alternately, you could rinse the glass with absinthe instead of incorporating it into the drink.) Strain into a coupe and garnish with a stem-less cherry.
Alyson Sheppard is the resident hangover specialist at Playboy.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amshep