There was a time when it was socially acceptable to drink before noon. That time, sadly, is no more. (Look up “New York debaucherous brunch” for the exception, but I have been told on many occasions that “breakfast Scotch” is strictly off limits.) In those mornings of that more enlightened time, it was normal to have a “hair of the dog” kind of drink which, while I’m not sure helped cure your hangover, at least made it less terrible. Chief among these quaffs of yore was one of the best pre-prohibition classics passed down to today, the Corpse Reviver #2. While one glass would wake a corpse up, Harry Croddock, esteemed barman at the Savoy Hotel in London and author of The Savoy Cocktail Book, said that, “four taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.”
I’ve known about the corpse reviver for awhile now as it is heralded by nearly every mixology author publishing today as one of the most beautifully balanced works of alcoholic art this side of the sidecar. The recipe is simple – gin, Cointreau, lemon and Lillet in equal parts with a dash of absinthe – but the sum is a delicate harmony; serve a Corpse Reviver to a person who hates gin or absinthe and watch them eat crow. We served a few at our last cocktail party, but I was so busy working out our other new drinks (a couple nice Blood and Sands mostly) that I never tried one and kicked myself later for it.
Well, one of the cool bits of news that I came across in the last few weeks was that suburban Chicago’s North Shore Distillery was releasing a limited edition spirit called CR2, an obvious allusion to the Corpse Reviver #2. At first, I thought that the distillery, (which makes several types of gin, an absinthe, a vodka and an aquavit,) was going to simply bottle a combination of products to produce a ready-to-serve cocktail-in-a-bottle. Though this could potentially have been good, the idea of them premixing me a cocktail and then charging me extra for it struck me as lame. However, thankfully that’s not the case. The folks at North Shore have instead made a single spirit containing all the flavors of the corpse reviver.
Say what?!? I needed to try this. (And I did.)
CR2 is distilled and infused with gin flavors, citrus (orange for the triple sec as well as lemon), and spices and herbs (for the very complex absinthe and Lillet profiles) and then mixed with wine. The result is a remarkable rendition, with each expected flavor appearing and playing its role. I imagine that making a complex spirit such as absinthe is hard, but to then produce it at 1/50oth its normal strength while simultaneously producing gin, triple sec, and lemon tinged aperitif wine, that’s just astounding!
The spirit, which the distillery recommends simply shaking over ice and serving up in a cocktail glass with a cherry, is a limited edition product. Only 515 bottles have been produced (I got #120 suckas!) and it sells at a pricey $40 for a 750mL bottle. Word on the street is that many of the suburbs have already sold out and the Binny’s I got this at had only one more on the shelf. If you get the chance, I really think this is worth it.