Spring Revivers in Time For Easter
One of the great categories of classic cocktails are those that taste best on the day after the night before. Granted, the modern concept of brunch, what has become a cultural weekend ritual of the Monday-Friday working set, consisting of the partaking of something egg-based, usually paired alongside something Mary or “mosa-ed” didn’t exist at the turn of the 20th century. A daytime cocktail wasn’t consumed with a meal, after waiting in line for hours for the privilege of eating duck mole hash. Back in the day, you ponied up to the bar for a weekend day cocktail, and drank it for its own sake. No fancy biscuits with that. But they had the same purpose, the old hair of the dog, the reviver, something with which to resurrect ourselves. This genre of cocktail was first popularized in the 1930s by Harry Craddock, of the American Bar in London’s Savoy Hotel, and many recipes can be found in the Savoy Cocktail Book.
The word “epic” has also changed in usage since then. No longer confined to describe things such as a long battle for land entitlement, or a difficult journey on foot across oceans and deserts, we’ve gotten a bit dramatic. “Last night was epic, dude.” Sure, maybe a body of water was crossed, maybe more than once, but the epic-ness refers to all the drinks imbibed into the wee hours of the night, or possibly till the next morning.
In which case, in the cold light of day, some sort of reviver cocktail might be in order.
This is a biblical time of year, with Passover, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter all happening within days of each other. Don’t get offended (it’s all fun in love and booze, after all) - but because the ingredients of these cocktails are mostly so bright and spring-like, and the holidays themselves connote awakening in all their meaning and legend, particularly Easter Sunday, they make me want to drink reviver cocktails. While we’re getting into that sprawling, technicolor, widescreen,”testamental” mood for the occasion, maybe a Blood and Sand is in order as well.
The Corpse Reviver
Not to be confused with all the CR cocktails with a number in their name, this one stands alone. Perhaps it was the first in its series, even though there is also a No. 1, which is completely different. This drink is a terrific alternative to the standard Mimosa, with more depth of flavor to kick oneself into gear.
1 oz brandy (such as Landy Cognac)
1 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 oz lemon juice
2 dashes Grenadine
Inexpensive, but well made white sparkling wine (such as Gloria Ferrer from the US, or Cava or Prosecco)
Shake all ingredients except the sparkling wine with ice. Strain into a medium wine glass (something that will hold about 5 oz). Top with sparkler. Garnish with orange or lemon peel (optional).
The Corpse Reviver No. 2
Truly one of my favorite cocktails of all time. Grown up lemonade with all the verdure of springtime.
¾ oz dry gin
¾ oz orange liqueur
¾ oz Lillet Blanc
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 scant, very, very scant, dashes Absinthe, pastis or Pernod (Go light with this ingredient. Too much will make you want to send your reviver back to the land of the dead.)
lemon twist or brandied cherry for garnish
Shake all ingredients except garnish with ice. Strain into chilled coupe or cocktail glass and garnish.
Blood and Sand
I used to HATE this cocktail, with every ounce of my jiggers. Until I found a recipe with a better ratio of Scotch to orange juice to cherry, and made it with the right Scotch in the first place. I also realized the cherry element is very important - sweet, tart cherry liqueur and not Maraschino, which is too medicinal for this purpose, much as I love it for other things!
¾ oz. sweet vermouth
¾ oz. fresh orange juice
1 maraschino cherry, to garnish
Add cherry liqueur, vermouth, and orange juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 15 to 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass and top with cherry.