Cocktails by Consensus: Corpse Reviver #2

Any discussion of the more popular of the corpse reviver cocktails (Yes, there is a #1) centers around the controversial 3rd ingredient. Kina Lillet does not exist anymore: some choose Lillet Blanc, the reconfigured modern sister to Kina Lillet. Others choose Cocchi Aperitivo Americano as their poison of choice.

Serious EatsSavoy StompGin FeteOh Gosh!
Gin1 oz.3/4 oz.20 mL1 shot
Lillet1 oz.20 mL1 shot
Cocchi Americano3/4 oz.
Lemon Juice1 oz.3/4 oz.20 mL1 shot
Cointreau1 oz3/4 oz.20 mL1 shot
Absinthe1 drop1 dash2 dashes1/4 tsp

LadyLillet on Kina

Officially, the modern Kina Lillet contains the same amount quinine as the original. But that hasn’t stopped people from speculating whether the modern Lillet tastes similar enough to Kina Lillet to be considered the appropriate ingredient.  LadyLillet, the brand’s ambassador on Twitter seems to regularly field questions about Lillet Blanc’s quinine content. Toby Cecchini’s recent New York Times magazine piece on Cocchi Aperitivo Americano is likely responsible for a bit of this controversy:

In 1986, Lillet reformulated its famous digestif wine, Kina Lillet, to a less-alcoholic and less-bitter version, removing the “Kina” from the name and marketing it as Lillet Blanc.  The company’s Web site still cites cinchona as one of Lillet’s ingredients, but you’d be hard pressed to taste it… it left a hole where Kina Lillet stood in several classic cocktails, primarily the Corpse Reviver #2 and the Vesper. (from New York Times)

So where do we go from here? We have an extremely easy cocktail, a classic 1:1:1:1 ratio with on disputed ingredient. Aside from one issue, there is an emergent consensus. A dash of absinthe adds some complexity to the cocktail, but its an easy to remember, easy to make, but extraordinarily complex tasting cocktail.

There’s a lot of great history on the web surrounding the Legendary Corpse Reviver Cocktails, and plenty of discussion of the merits of Cocchi v. Lillet. So I’ve presented the case, and you see there’s some consensus on the other ingredients. But I want to look a bit further into this cocktail.We have two versions:

The Corpse Reviver #2.1 w/ Cocchi Americano
The Corpse Reviver #2.2 w/ Lillet Blanc

I pose them as 2.1 and 2.2 not to imply one is better than the other, but to draw a distinction between the two cocktails. I enjoy both Lillet and the Cocchi, and although similar with some sweetness and hints of bitterness, there are definite differences between the two- almost enough to make them different cocktails. In the next couple months I’m going to mix both versions of them and take a look at which gins work in which versions. And perhaps offer a take on which one I prefer. But for now, I don’t think you can go wrong. If you can find Lillet (a bit easier I think) or Cocchi, don’t worry about what the other delivers- you have a good cocktail on your hands.

Source #1: Serious Eats
Source #2: Savoy Stomp
Source #3: Gin Fete
Source #4: Oh Gosh!

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One thought on “Cocktails by Consensus: Corpse Reviver #2

  1. […] The Debate Rages On I’ve entertained this debate on my blog before, and plenty of other writers have weighed in on this similarly: did a similar study about 3 years ago, The New York times weighed in on Cocchi’s emergence in 2010, Serious Eats and the Tasting Table have also weighed in. In fact, I’ve speculated on this before as well. […]

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