Kentucky Corpse Reviver Cocktail

The Kentucky Corpse Reviver is a twist on the classic Corpse Reviver #2, one of my all time favorite gin cocktails.


The Corpse Reviver is a family of cocktails, most of them lost in time. The name comes from their fictionalized ability to bring the dead (or at least the severely hungover) back to life. Four to five different variations existed in the 1930s. Then they disappeared. But thankfully, some reappeared in the late twentieth century.

The most famous of the Corpse Revivers is the Corpse Reviver #2 from The Savoy Cocktail Book by Henry Craddock (1930). In his book he says, “Four of these taken in quick succession will unrevive the corpse again.” 

The Recipe

The Peels Restaurant in New York City created the Kentucky Corpse Reviver.

  • ¾ ounce Elijah Craig 12-year Bourbon
  • ¾ ounce Pierre Ferrand Curaçao
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce Lillet Blanc

Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain ingredients into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

The Execution

Here are a few tips to help perfect the cocktail:

  • Notice the measurements are equal. So you can easily make a larger or smaller drink, depending on what you feel up for.
  • Elijah Craig 12-year Bourbon and Pierre Ferrand Curaçao are what the original calls for. Feel free to substitute any bourbon and curaçao you have.
  • Lillet is an aperitif wine, and as a result, will spoil. To maximize freshness, keep it in the fridge with a VacuVin Wine Saver, or something similar. It will last about six months this way. If it smells or tastes funky, it probably is, toss it.

The Corpse Reviver #2, made for gin, but altered with bourbon to become the Kentucky Corpse Reviver, has complex notes of sweet and sour and a subtle hint of orange from the curaçao. The drink has been tastefully reinvented and this particular family of cocktails will continue to live on.