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A Spontaneous Libation for your Consideration

From the Knowledge Vault

'Tis Pity She's a Corpse

A Short History of the Corpse Reviver

Nineteenth century drinking culture was, in many ways, quite alien to what is socially acceptable today. The local saloon was more like a coffee shop – where (mainly) men socialized and drank throughout the day. Many people started and ended their day with a drink, and took them to waken the appetite, digest meals, or “whenever steam and energy are needed”. Many drinks in the middle of the 19th century reflect the notion of the energy and verve a quick stiff drink would give the imbiber: “flash of lightning”, “pick me up”, “refresher”, “invigorator” and our primary subject, the “corpse-reviver”.

The first reference I can find of a drink called a Corpse Reviver is in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (London) on October 23rd, 1859 in which a theater reviewer describes Tom Taylor’s new play Garibaldi:

Suddenly, the reader will surprised to hear, every man jack of the company of troopers gets excessively drunk and incapable on a couple of enormous stone jugs of some American drink (possibly “corpse reviver” or “gone ‘coon”)…

One of the most interesting things about the search for the early Corpse Reviver is the lack of American sources that reference the drink. The earliest mentions are in London newspapers and magazines, and though they’re always very careful to call them “American drinks”, throughout the latter half of the 19th century, it is almost always European sources who give reference to the Corpse Reviver. Which makes a lot of sense, because no less than the celebrated Jerry Thomas introduced this drink to wild acclaim in London.

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Recent Discussion

  • Re Baby Zombie, 1 hour 3 minutes ago HallA commented:

    Dangerously sweet for the booze content. Would be careful to not make this with high fructose grenadine (or take it down) as this is inclined to lean sweet but with the passionfruit and lime there's nice bite there with layers of booze. Very nice,

  • Re Songs My Mother Taught Me, 7 hours 40 minutes ago Mixed up in Na… commented:

    Enjoyable, interesting, and surprisingly refreshing.

  • Re Camp Counselor, 11 hours ago bkemp1984 commented:

    I used Fever Tree's "Refreshingly Light" ginger beer, which just has about half the amount of sugar. I didn't try it with the regular ginger beer, but I think the one I used is the way to go. It was still plenty sweet since the liqueurs and vermouth have plenty of sugar.

  • Re Patent Pending, 1 day ago TrinSF commented:

    Bullitt rye and Bitter Mile Chocolate Chili bitters. It left a zing on the lip. A nice Manhattan changeup.

  • Re Alpine Bird, 4 days ago HallA commented:

    It's good, there is a weird, pleasant note that I'm reading as coconut-ey off the combination of the braulio and the pineapple. Lots of foam.