“The Corpse Reviver No 2 is an original Savoy recipe,” says Erik Lorincz, the much-lauded head bartender at The Savoy Hotel’s world-renowned American Bar. “It was originally invented by Harry Craddock, who ran the American Bar back in the Twenties and Thirties. The idea was it would pep you up, and help combat a hangover.”
Craddock was convinced of the healing powers of the aptly-named concoction, although he does note in his visionary 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book that “four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again”.
Does Lorincz have similar faith in this cocktail’s restorative powers? “Yes, it’s a crisp, tangy, refreshing drink. And it’s really, really easy to make, so if you’re hungover you don’t have to think too hard. Equal quantities of everything, a tiny drop of absinthe, and you’re ready to go.”
Alongside our edit of the best London gins, here’s Lorincz’s take on the cocktail: he uses Cocchi Americano, an aperitif currently finding favour in the nation’s smartest bars, however Kina Lillet, as originally prescribed in Craddock’s recipe, will also suffice.
Incidentally, the Corpse Reviver No 1 comprises cognac, calvados and sweet vermouth and under no circumstances should be ingested with a hangover. Or, perhaps, at all.
The Corpse Reviver No 2
1pt London dry gin
1pt Cocchi Americano, or Kina Lillet
1pt lemon juice
3 drops absinthe
Combine all the ingredients, shake well, pour into a chilled martini glass, garnish and serve with lemon.
Four of our finest London dry gins
1. Fifty Pounds
During George II’s reign, the 1736 Gin Act saw a hefty £50 penalty levied on all organisations selling and distributing gin (though only two distilleries actually paid up).
Named in (mocking) memory of said fee, crisp and clean Fifty Pounds is a complex premium gin, made in small batches and distilled four times in a John Dore pot still, the Rolls-Royce of stills.
2. Jensen Bermondsey
Like many* of the best spirits, this was invented by a Danish IT expert. With trendy minimalist packaging, Jensen’s old-style dry gin is about as smooth as they come.
For “ginthusiasts” on the hunt for something more esoteric, Jensen’s range also includes an earthy and full-bodied Old Tom, a spirit that preceded today’s London dry gin style. (*Almost none.)
3. Bombay Sapphire
This classic dry gin is light, fresh and sweet, and not overly heavy on the juniper. A drinks cabinet stalwart when it comes to a gin and tonic or negroni, Bombay is versatile enough to mesh beautifully with the flavours of the Corpse Reviver No 2.
4. Portobello Road
A spicy, juniper-centric gin infused with nine botanicals (juniper berries, lemon peel, bitter orange peel, coriander seeds, orris root, angelica root, cassia bark, liquorice and nutmeg, for those taking notes).
The gin is made in limited batches and packaged in beautiful bottles, each signed by the distiller.
Photographs by Clare Winfield