The Biggest challenge for any gin in my opinion in this cocktail is working in concert with the Absinthe. Even with only a single drop, it can overwhelm. The other ingredients are subtle at their very best.
There’s a big reason why I think this cocktail worked so well. I’m unabashedly big fan of floral elements in my gin. I’ve heaped praise upon G’vine and Seneca Drums for their floral bases and juniper botanicals. River Rose takes a slightly different approach, and in doing so, creates a rather unique bouquet in this complex cocktail. Plenty of rose up front, and yet on the tail of the taste you get the herbal notes of the absinthe, but still the warm sweet spice of River Rose. Though the juniper becomes subtle in this cocktail, River Rose Gin creates a novel spin and actually makes a Corpse Reviver #2 which tastes unmistakably of gin, but at the same time, unlike other gins in the same cocktail. Fortunately, I think this is the highest praise you can heap on a certain spirit in a given drink. Cocktails at times can mask the novel differences, but when you find the right fit between gin and drink- those differences elevate the cocktail.
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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
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.
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