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Cheers! Michigan twist on a classic hangover 'cure'

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Ingredients for a Michigan version of the classic cocktail Corpse Reviver 2.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Mark Cooney at Wright and Company shaking up a Corpse Reviver 2.

Wright and Company is a second floor restaurant and bar housed in a Queen Anne style commercial building done in brick with brownstone trim at 1500 Woodward in downtown Detroit.

The Cheers! team of Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings and Lester Graham were there for a surprise drink mixed by Mark Cooney.

As Cooney started setting up the ingredients at the bar, it quickly became evident that he was making a classic cocktail called the Corpse Reviver 2. The twist was using two spirits from Two James Spirits based in Detroit: Nain Rouge Absinthe Verte and Barrel Reserve Old Cockney Gin.

“Neither of which we’ve used in cocktails before,” Coxen said, adding, “That’s pretty exciting!”

Cooney says the Corpse Reviver 2 was one of the very first craft cocktails he ever tasted and started him down the road to becoming a mixologist.

The Corpse Reviver 2 was one of six Corpse Reviver cocktails said to have restorative powers. They were originally intended to be morning drinks, hangover cures. Only two of the six Corpse Reviver cocktail recipes survive today. Coxen and Cooney agree Corpse Reviver 1 tastes horrible.

The Corpse Reviver 2 has become very popular with the advent of the current craft cocktail culture.

“One of the things I love about this cocktail is that it’s just equal parts, so it’s really easy to make,” Coxen said.

She added you could be at the beach with nothing but a clam shell to measure the ingredients, and you could make a fine equal-parts cocktail.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The Corpse Reviver 2.

Corpse Reviver 2

¾ oz fresh lemon juice

¾ oz orange dry curacao

¾ oz Cocchi Americano Aperitivo

¾ oz Two James Barrel Reserve Old Cockney Gin

Nain Rouge Absinthe Verte to rinse the glass

Lemon peel garnish

Put the first four ingredients into a shaking tin with ice. Shake. Rinse the inside of a coupe glass with absinthe (you can also use an atomizer to spray the inside of the glass). Strain the mixed ingredients into the glass. Add the lemon peel garnish.

“The reason we’re using the rinse is that absinthe can be overbearing and overpowering. What I want to do is make sure that flavor is a little whisper, if you will,” Cooney explained.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Mark Cooney at Wright and Company in downtown Detroit.

The aroma of the anise and wormwood in the absinthe combined with the lemon is a match bartenders discovered long ago. It’s part of what makes the New Orleans cocktail Sazerac so magical.

“One of the things I love about this drink is that it immediately brings something to you before you’ve even tasted it,” Coxen said.

The result of using the barrel-aged gin is a mellower version of the Corpse Reviver 2, something everyone at the bar agreed was a very nice variation on the cocktail.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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