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The Corpse Reviver No 2 recipe is a classic cocktail that’s crisp, tart and perfectly balanced! It’s one heck of a drink…just as unique as its name.

Corpse reviver No 2
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Here’s a classic cocktail that’s as unique as its name…the Corpse Reviver No 2! To be honest, we were a little wary of this cocktail at first because of its moniker. But it turns out that the Corpse Reviver has nothing scary or ghoulish about it. In fact, it’s damn good. It’s a classic gin sour cocktail that’s tart and zingy from lemon juice and orange liqueur, with a hint of licorice on the finish. It’s truly a stunner…and the name will impress all your friends. Let’s get mixing!

What’s a Corpse Reviver No 2?

So, why is it called a Corpse Reviver? The Corpse Reviver is a family of cocktails with a humorous name: indicating the strength of the drink was enough to bring a body back from the grave. The most famous Corpse Reviver that’s still popular today is Corpse Reviver No 2. This drink was printed in the renowned Savoy Cocktail book from 1930. It’s a classic gin sour cocktail, a mixed drink made with liquor, citrus, and sweetener. In fact, the drink is very similar to the makeup of a Margarita or Sidecar (we’ll get to that below).

This cocktail is on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, meaning that it has an “official” definition. The ingredients in a Corpse Reviver No 2 cocktail are:

  • Gin
  • Lemon juice
  • Cointreau
  • Dry vermouth or Lillet Blanc
  • Absinthe

Let’s talk through a few of the more interesting ingredients, shall we?

Corpse Reviver No 2

Should you use dry vermouth or Lillet Blanc?

One unique element of the Corpse Reviver is the addition of dry vermouth or Lillet Blanc to the basic formula of a sour cocktail. The original drink was made with Kina Lillet, a wine-based aperitif that is no longer made (production stopped in 1986). These days, here’s what’s you can substitute:

  • Dry vermouth: Dry vermouth is a fortified wine and it’s the most basic, easy to find liquor (it’s used in Martinis and lots of other cocktails).
  • Lillet Blanc: Lillet Blanc is the modern version of Kina Lillet. It’s is a popular aromatized wine flavored with herbs and citrus. It’s very refreshing (one of our favorites!) and you can use it in lots of cocktails, like a Vesper Martini, Lillet Spritz or Lillet G&T Cocktail.
  • Cocchi Americano: Many bartenders use Cocchi Americano in a Corpse Reviver these days, since it’s considered the closest to Kina Lillet. Since this is a more specialty liqueur, this option is for cocktail connoisseurs.

What is absinthe? Is it worth buying?

Arguably the most unique ingredient in the Corpse Reviver is…absinthe. And it has a bit of a history. In fact, it was illegal in the US for almost 100 years! Famous painters like Degas, Manet and Picasso have even immortalized it in their paintings. But don’t worry: scientists of today have determined that absinthe is perfectly safe consumed in moderation. Here’s what to know before grabbing a bottle of this special spirit for a Corpse Reviver:

  • Absinthe is a green anise-flavored spirit made from botanicals: wormwood, anise, fennel and other herbs. It was illegal in the US from 1912 to 2007. Why? Keep reading…
  • What does absinthe taste like? It tastes herbal, with a strong black licorice finish.
  • Is absinthe hallucinogenic? No! But this is why it was illegal in Europe and the US for almost 100 years. It became very popular in the 1840s, but started to be unfairly associated with violent crimes. While that wasn’t true, people started to believe it and bans ensued. Modern research has confirmed absinthe is no more harmful than any other alcohol. Here are some more absinthe myths to debunk.
  • Is it worth buying? Yes, if you’re an adventurous cocktail drinker! It’s in several other classic absinthe cocktails like the Sazerac, La Louisiane and Death in the Afternoon.
  • Don’t have absinthe? Pastis or Pernod make a good substitute.

How to make a Corpse Reviver No 2

Got all those ingredients? After that, it’s quick and easy to make the Corpse Reviver No 2:

  • Shake in a cocktail shaker. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake (Don’t have one? Use a mason jar!)
  • Strain into a glass and garnish. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange or lemon wedge.
How to make a Corpse Reviver

Variations on the Corpse Reviver

Want to add a little spin on a Corpse Reviver? Here are a few quick variations to get your wheels turning:

Another drink with a macabre name? Try the Zombie.

Because the Corpse Reviver is a classic sour cocktail, it’s related to lots of well known drinks. Here are a few that are very similar:

  • White Lady Cocktail The classic White Lady is very close to a Corpse Reviver! There’s no Lillet Blanc or absinthe, but otherwise it’s the same (without the egg white).
  • Classic Sidecar The Sidecar is also a close relative! It uses Cognac, but the formula is the same (without Lillet Blanc and absinthe).
  • Gin Sour The gin sour is another similar drink using gin, lemon and simple syrup.
  • Classic Margarita Same deal with the margarita! But the Margarita has tequila and lime instead of gin and lemon.

When to serve a Corpse Reviver cocktail

The Corpse Reviver is a classy upscale cocktail that’s zingy and unique. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Signature cocktail
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Corpse reviver No 2

Corpse Reviver Cocktail

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


The Corpse Reviver No 2 recipe is a classic cocktail that’s crisp, tart and perfectly balanced! It’s one heck of a drink…just as unique as its name.


  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce Cointreau (or Grand Marnier)
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth, Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano
  • ½ teaspoon absinthe
  • For the garnish: Orange peel or orange wedge


  1. Add the gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, dry vermouth, and absinthe to a cocktail shaker. Fill it with ice and shake it until cold.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass. If desired, garnish with an orange peel or orange wedge. 
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Drinks Well With Others says:

    Really, really, really delish and very yummy! I am so glad I purchased all the necessary ingredients to make this amazing sipper!! Soooo good and my husband could not stop commenting on the flavors! Perfect, absolutely perfect! THANK YOU!!! Addicted to your cocktail recipes!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Deliciously tart and mellow cocktail. Our favorite. Thank you

  3. reuben says:

    Sounds like someone had a few too many corpse revivers between writing the ingredients list and the instructions…..

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Updated and thank you!