Frontier Mixology, Vol. 15: Antifogmatics, Moustache Twisters, and Corpse Revivers

Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet allow that “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” and in Mad Men they try not to drink before noon, but getting one’s drink on didn’t always have to wait until a predetermined, socially-acceptable hour.In fact, many early cocktails were gulped down first thing in the morning as a pick-me-up, no doubt from having had too many the night before.  Before the mimosa and bloody mary opened up morning drinking to stroller-toting brunchers, there were many drinks known for their reviving properties, variously known as eye-openers, moustache twisters, and antifogmatics.  Antifogmatic, of course, also being the title of the new album by the Punch Brothers, a favorite of ours.  As for antifogmatics of the potable variety, these generally small but strong drinks were taken on the pretense that they were “for medicinal purposes,” much like digestives and other early liqueurs.  Now, a bit of the hair of the dog might work, perhaps because it shifts the concentration of alcohol still in your blood stream from more fusal alcohols to more ethanol, thereby lowering the overall amount of toxic byproducts from the enzymatic breakdown of fusal alcohols.  On the other hand, maybe you feel better because you are drunk again, and will still have to pay later.

Regardless, people loved their morning glories and moustache twisters, but the most favorite and famous was the corpse reviver, a fitting name for a drink that itself was resuscitated from the Savoy Cocktail Book, a canonical compendium of classic cocktails, and of late has been the gateway drink for people getting into cocktails.  The Corpse Reviver was a class of drinks, and there were many variations, some sources listing three or more.  There is no question, however, about which variation to make: number two is the one.

Corpse Reviver No. 2

¾ oz. gin

¾ oz. orange liqueur

¾ oz. fresh lemon juice

¾ oz. aperitif wine

3 dashes of absinthe (or pastis)

Shake all with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with cherry if desired.

For the aperitif wine, Lillet Blanc is the classic choice, and you can’t go wrong using it.  The Lillet available today, however, is less bitter (a bad thing) than the Kina Lillet that would have been used at the time.  Accordingly, we like it best with Cocchi Americano, a newly-imported aperitivo that has the requisite quinine edge.

Legendary barman Harry Craddock advised that corpse revivers were “to be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed.”  These days, those is search of steam are only too happy to throw their money away on the energy drinks.  (Sidebar to the producers of the heavily-marketed 5-hour energy “shots”: did you learn nothing from 7-minute abs? you guys were just setting yourselves up for someone to come along with a 6-hour energy drink.)  Although the stigma against drinking in the morning doesn’t seem to be anywhere near death, a Corpse Reviver No. 2 is still a much more advisable pick-me-up than a can of Pimp Juice energy drink.

Drink up,

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