Cocktail Friday: Kentucky Corpse Reviver

Kentucky Corpse Reviver, with frog
Kentucky Corpse Reviver, with frog

For the second entry in Cocktail Friday, I turn to bourbon, but with a twist. One of those “any excuse to party” websites declared Wednesday National Bourbon Day, and I decided to celebrate with a drink I had never had before, which is a twist on a completely different drink: the Kentucky Corpse Reviver.

There are a number of drinks with the name “corpse reviver,” which are mostly unrelated to each other and to this drink. The theme, as Wikipedia dryly notes, is “hair of the dog” hangover cures, but I can’t imagine anyone drinking these in the morning. Wikipedia gives the great Harry Craddock credit for the two better known recipes, based on cognac and gin, but also points to a mention of a cocktail called a Corpse-Reviver in Punch in 1861, meaning that the concept is ancient even if the drink is modern.

In concept, the Kentucky Corpse Reviver is a straightforward adaptation of the justly famous Corpse Reviver #2, substituting bourbon for gin and omitting the absinthe. In practice, the addition of both bourbon and the mint garnish make this an entirely different, and remarkable, drink. But proceed with caution: as with the original, “four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.”

Here’s the Highball recipe card, if you plan to try it out. Enjoy!

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Cocktail Friday: The Bairn

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Today’s post comes courtesy of the Esquire Drink Book, a mid-century masterpiece of cocktail lore. It’s not just comprehensive but also wittily written and illustrated, and full of odd little throwaway recipes here and there.

I’ve been reading through it for a few weeks and am starting to collect cocktails to try. One that I investigated early on and that’s stayed with me is the Bairn, which as its name suggests is a Scotch-based cocktail. This blends the smokiness of Scotch with a solid dose of orange from both the Cointreau and the bitters. It’s a great introduction to the book and is an unfussy Friday afternoon sort of cocktail, which if your Fridays are anything like mine is just the right sort of thing to try.

I’m experimenting with a new-to-me app called Highball to document and share cocktail recipes; it’s nice because importing the image below into your version of the app will automatically add the recipe to your recipe book. Try it out and let me know what you think.

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Cocktail recipe: Woodsy Owl

The Woodsy Owl

It’s a concert week, so I thought in lieu of a proper blog post I’d share this cocktail recipe I invented a year or so ago. Enjoy!

This is the Woodsy Owl. It’s a little like an Allen Cocktail, but the combination of sweet vermouth and Cardamaro gives a slightly sweet herbal flavor to what would otherwise be a less bitter variation on the Negroni.

Woodsy Owl

  • 1 oz gin (recommend Plymouth)
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz Cardamaro

Combine and stir over ice. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon peel (optional).

“A modern art—this mixing of drinks”

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Inside front wooden cover and title page of Here’s How: Mixed Drinks, published in Asheville in 1941.

Speaking of primary artifacts of history…

As I learn more about the fine art of mixology, I’ve been slowly acquiring interesting cocktail books. As the books get better, so do their bibliographies, and so I’ve started to poke my nose into the rabbit hole of vintage cocktail books.

A friend gave me a copy of the Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual—highly recommended even if you never make a drink in it for the thoroughness of the historic research and the slightly breathless biography of the NYC bar’s owner and bartender. In an aside, an early chapter mentions a punch recipe that was cited in a book called Here’s How, published by Three Mountaineers in Asheville, NC in 1941.

A cocktail book published in Asheville? In 1941?

Of course, Asheville had been a resort destination during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but I had no inkling that it had a cocktail culture. But, one eBay acquisition later, I can attest that editor W.C. Whitfield knew his stuff. The hillbilly illustration and wood-and-leather binding aside, the contents are impeccable, with a brandy crusta recipe I will be trying this weekend, and three different variations on a mint julep.

I can’t figure out who Whitfield is, nor his connection to Asheville, but the publisher Three Mountaineers was a furniture and home furnishings maker founded in 1932 (hence the wooden covers, presumably). Maybe my Asheville relatives can find out more…