While the name conjures images of a zombie apocalypse,

the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is a bright and citrus-forward drink that was popular in the second half of the 18th century, then resurrected by Harry Craddock at the American Bar in the Savoy Hotel in the 1920s. Here is the drink’s history and how to make it, as told by Signature Cocktails author, Amanda Schuster.

Excerpted from Signature Cocktails © 2023 by Amanda Schuster. Photography © 2023 by Andy Sewell. Reproduced by permission of Phaidon. All rights reserved.


YEAR: 1930
ORIGIN: London, UK
INVENTOR: Harry Craddock
PREMISES: American Bar, Savoy Hotel

To the unfamiliar, this cocktail sounds like it comes from a 1990s-era TGI Friday’s’ menu. However, “reviver” is a genre of cocktails that has been around since the 1850s, originating in the UK. The first known versions were served at a bar in Piccadilly, London, and intended to stimulate the palate during the early part of the day. Some referred to them as “anti-fogmatic,” which is a stately way to refer to a hangover remedy.

The drink might have been lost to history entirely if it hadn’t been for Harry Craddock, the New York bartender who relocated to the American Bar at the Savoy hotel in the 1920s, who included recipes for Corpse No. 1 and Corpse No. 2 in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book.

Having again gone out of rotation for decades, Corpse Reviver No. 2 was resurrected in the early 2000s by cocktail enthusiasts who found it in Craddock’s book and favored this refreshing gin lemonade-like recipe over the stirred, often unctuous No. 1. Its rediscovery also happened to coincide with the Stateside legalization of real absinthe—an essential flavor component—and it became one of the “it” cocktails, particularly around 2008 into the early 2010s. These days, almost any decent bar with the necessary ingredients either has it on the menu already or will know how to make one, and there are ready-to-drink (RTD) versions as well. Of course, Corpse No. 2 is once again one of the stars of the Savoy, too.


¾ oz (22 ml) dry gin
¾ oz (22 ml) Lillet Blanc (or Cocchi Americano, closer to the original Kina Lillet recipe)
¾ oz (22 ml) orange liqueur
¾ oz (22 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 dash absinthe
Garnish: lemon twist

Shake the gin, Lillet Blanc, orange liqueur, and lemon juice with ice, adding the absinthe via your chosen method,* and strain into a coupe glass before garnishing with a lemon twist.

*A word on incorporating the absinthe: bartenders use several methods. Some simply add a scant dash to the other ingredients before shaking them together. Some rinse the cocktail glass out with it. Others spray it over the finished drink with an aromatizer.

Amanda Schuster is a freelance writer with over 15 years’ industry experience covering wine, spirits, cocktails and occasionally things you eat with those things. She is a freelance writer, beverage consultant, and the author of New York Cocktails and Drink Like a Local New York: A Field Guide to New York’s Best Bars from Cider Mill Press. She also authored Signature Cocktails by Phaidon Press. With advanced training in both wine and spirits, Amanda likes to think of herself as bi-spiritual.