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Lychee Reviver: Pickle gin sour cocktail

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lychee reviver cocktail with lychee garnish

Lychee reviver is a lychee pick me up cocktail using fresh in season lychees with vanilla, pink pepper and ginger preserved with coconut vinegar in a shrub syrup paired with Lillet Rose, Lychee Liqueur, Dry Gin, and a dash of Ginger Liqueur for a bright, refreshing and beautifully perfumed summer cocktail. The lychee reviver cocktail recipe is based on the Corpse Reviver No. 2 formula, where the original formula features equal parts of lemon juice, Kina Lillet, Cointreau, Dry Gin with an accent of Absinthe. I have tailored the ingredients in the lychee reviver to show off the delicate perfume and delicious flavour of lychee. The souring agent instead of being lemon becomes a lychee shrub syrup flavoured with vanilla, pink pepper, and ginger. The Kina Lillet, which is sadly no longer available, is swapped out for Lillet Rose to add citrus notes. Instead of using Cointreau a Lychee Liqueur is used. The Absinthe accent is replaced with a Ginger Liqueur that pairs wonderfully with lychee. The lychee reviver is a subtle and delicate wonderfully perfumed pickle gin sour cocktail that is deliciously refreshing and looks beautiful with a light pink colour and flower shaped red and white lychee garnish.

Cocktails as a ‘tonic’- history & terminology: early 1800’s

David Wondrich (2015: 311-313) in Imbibe writes that the idea and terminology of a cocktail as a ‘hangover cure’ or pick me up can be dated to the early 1800’s and that these pick me up cocktails were referred to as:

“…‘anti-fogmatic’ (…1808), ‘eye-opener’ (1818), ‘bracer’ (1829), ‘corpse reviver’, or ‘morning glory’ (both 1862).”

David Wondrich (2015: 312). Imbibe. Perigree: New York.

Simon Difford (2020) in his article Corpse Reviver Cocktails – recipes & history relates that there is an example of the term ‘Corpse Reviver’ referring to an alcoholic drink as early as 1861.

Jerry Thomas writing in the 1862 edition of his Bar-tender’s Guide (Thomas 1862: 49) extols on this idea of the cocktail as a restorative with medicinal properties:

“The ‘Cocktail’ is a modern invention, and is generally used on fishing and other sporting parties, although some patients insist that it is good in the morning as a tonic.”

Jerry Thomas (1862: 49). The Bar-tender’s Guide: Bon-vivant’s companion. Dick & Fitzgerald: New York, reprint by Thomas Majhen.

Corpse Reviver & Morning Glory printed cocktail recipes: late 1800’s

Corpse Reviver cocktail recipes date to the late 1800’s. Simon Difford (2020) in Corpse Reviver Cocktails – recipes & history writes that a printed recipe for a Corpse Reviver appeared as early as 1871 in E. Ricket and C. Thomas’ The Gentleman’s Table Guide, calling for equal parts of Brandy and Maraschino and two dashes of Boker’s Bitters. David Wondrich (2015: 312) provides an example of a related style of pick me up hangover cure cocktail, which pre-dated the use of aspirin, in the form of the Morning Glory Cocktail appearing in the 1887 revised edition of Jerry Thomas’ Bar-tender’s Guide (Thomas 1887: 694-8) calling for gum syrup, curacao, Boker’s bitters, Absinthe, Brandy, Whiskey, lemon twist, ice to mix, Seltzer water to top.

Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) Cocktail printed recipe: 1930

Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) is a pick me up Sour cocktail appearing in Harry Craddock’s (1930: 671) The Savoy Cocktail Book using equal parts lemon, Kina Lillet, Cointreau, Dry Gin, and a dash of Absinthe. There are a range of pick me up cocktails in The Savoy Cocktail Book (Craddock 1930: 665, 1140, 1095) including the Corpse Reviver (No. 1.) calling for Italian Vermouth, Apple Brandy and Brandy and the Hoop la! calling for equal parts lemon, Kina Lillet, Cointreau and Brandy as well as the Harry’s pick me up which calls for brandy, lemon and grenadine topped with champagne and a lemon twist. All of these except for Corpse Reviver No. 1. Include citrus and are thus variations on the Sour formula.

Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) formula: Equal parts Lemon, Kina Lillet, Cointreau, Gin, with Absinthe accent

The Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) formula calls for equal parts lemon juice, Kina Lillet, Cointreau, and Dry Gin with a dash of Absinthe. The measure called for by Harry Craddock is a ‘1/4 Wine Glass’ of each: lemon, Kina Lillet, Cointreau and Dry Gin; with ‘1 dash Absinthe’ (Craddock 1930: 667). David Wondrich (2015: 79) writes that 1 wineglass is equal to 2 oz. or 2 shots so for a ¼ wineglass measure that would be a ½ shot or ½ oz. of each ingredient and a dash of Absinthe. Modern interpretations of the Corpse Reviver No 2. (Savoy Recipe) such as that of Simon Difford of Difford’s Guide and Gary Regan in Joy of Mixology (Regan 2018: 3478) use a measure of ¾ shot for each ingredient, using Lillet Blanc in place of the no longer available Kina Lillet. Difford also adds a small amount of sugar syrup to balance the cocktail, increasing the Absinthe to 2 dashes. Some modern interpretations use 1 shot of each of the four key ingredients and a dash of Absinthe, such as Jeffrey Morgenthaler, in his video How to make a Corpse Reviver #2 for Imbibe. Dale De Groff (2002: 102) in The Craft of the Cocktail offers another interpretation using 1 shot gin, ½ shot each Cointreau, Lillet Blonde  and ¾ shot lemon with 1 dash Absinthe.

How to make a Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) Cocktail: Shake & Strain

Harry Craddock (1930: 672) writes that the Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) cocktail is made by adding all the ingredients then:

“Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.”

Harry Craddock (1930: 672). The Savoy Cocktail Book. Dover: New York.

Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) as pick me up, reviver

Harry Craddock (1930: 667) writes of the Corpse Reviver (No. 1.) that it can be used as a pick me up:

“To be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed.”

Harry Craddock (1930: 667). The Savoy Cocktail Book. Dover: New York.

Craddock (1930: 672) writes of the Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) that it packs an alcoholic punch that could undo the pick me up qualities it possesses if indulged in to excess:

“Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.”

Harry Craddock (1930: 672). The Savoy Cocktail Book. Dover: New York.

Still the reanimation associated with the corpse reviver is clear – as it does appear to revive but does the opposite if used to excess.

Experimenting with pick me up cocktail recipes: Bespoke syrups

The pick me up cocktails in The Savoy Cocktail Book lend themselves to experimentation as many of them have a sour or cordial component – lemon juice or grenadine – which can be swapped out for other types of souring agent or syrup including shrub syrups and pickle brines and bespoke grenadine – see for example my mandarin shrub hoop la!, and rhubarb corpse reviver no. 2 with rhubarb pickle brine and rhubarb bitters. Another classic Harry Craddock pick me up recipe is Harry’s pick me up cocktail which uses lemon juice and grenadine I have made a version of this with a bespoke grenadine syrup.

How is the lychee reviver different?

The lychee reviver is a seasonal pickle twist on the Savoy Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) recipe using equal parts of a bespoke lychee shrub syrup as a souring and flavouring agent, paired with Lillet Rose instead of the no longer available Kina Lillet, Lychee Liqueur, Dry Gin, and an accent of Ginger Liqueur. I have used a ½ shot of each key ingredient, making this a smaller cocktail than some modern interpretations which use up to ¾ or 1 shot of each key ingredient. The lychee reviver is styled in a vintage cocktail glass with a flower shaped lychee garnish.

fresh lychees in vintage cream jug for lychee reviver cocktail

Lychee shrub syrup with vanilla, pink pepper, ginger

Lychee shrub syrup adds intense fresh lychee flavour paired with ginger, pink pepper, and vanilla along with light coconut vinegar to the lychee reviver cocktail. Lychees are as much aroma as they are flavour – having a beautiful, sweet perfume and delicious delicate fruity and slightly tart and sweet almost floral flavour. Lychees pair well with vanilla, ginger, and citrus.

Lychee shrub syrup is made by a process of cold maceration of peeled and halved lychees along with their seeds with sugar and spices over 2 hours. The lychees are added with sugar and spices to a non-reactive container and left to macerate in the fridge. After about an hour the lychees are muddled with a muddling stick or potato masher to extract more juice. Once the maceration is complete the lychees are strained off from the resulting thick lychee syrup using a fine mesh sieve. The lychee syrup is then preserved by adding equal parts coconut vinegar. The shrub is kept in a sterilised jar in the fridge.

The method of cold maceration is informed by that used by Michael Dietsch (2016) in his wonderful book Shrubs, although the use of lychees paired with pink pepper, ginger and vanilla is my own contribution as is the use of this syrup in the lychee reviver.

Tip: I recommend that with lychees and strawberries a shorter maceration time is better – 2-4 hours – if you leave them for longer than this the syrup extracted has a high water content and less flavour. Other fruit or vegetables such as pineapple or fennel benefit from an overnight maceration at least or up to 2 days.

Shrubs are a fantastic way to add complex flavours to cocktails and mocktails from seasonal fresh produce including fruit and vegetables, sugar, spices, herbs, and vinegar such as blueberry shrub pisco sour, strawberry and blood orange shrub sour, pineapple and fennel margarita, carrot shrub daisy.

Lillet Rose

The Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) formula in The Savoy Cocktail Book (Craddock: 1930: 667) calls for Kina Lillet – this product is sadly no longer available and is often swapped out for Lillet Blanc in modern interpretations of the recipe. To make the most of the perfume and flavour of the lychees I have swapped it out for the fruity notes of Lillet Rose which also adds a slight pink colour to the cocktail.

Lychee Liqueur

The Cointreau in the Corpse Reviver (No. 2.) recipe is swapped out for a Lychee Liqueur, I have used Soho Lychee Liqueur, this adds lychee flavour and sweetness to the cocktail.

Four Pillars Australian Rare Dry Gin

The base spirit for the lychee reviver is a Four Pillars Australian Rare Dry Gin which features botanicals including orange, cardamon, star anise, cinnamon, pepper berry and lemon myrtle adding spice and fresh citrus notes that pair well with lychee.

Ginger Liqueur accent

The Absinthe accent is swapped out for a ginger accent as ginger works so wonderfully with lychees. I used Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur.

How to make a lychee reviver: Shake & Fine Strain

The lychee reviver is made by adding equal parts of lychee shrub syrup, Lillet Rose, Lychee Liqueur and Dry Gin along with a dash of Ginger Liqueur to a cocktail shaker with ice, shaking and fine straining into a chilled cocktail glass and garnishing with a fresh lychee.

Styling & photographing the lychee reviver: Vintage cocktail glass, lychee flower garnish

The lychee reviver is garnished with a fresh lychee peeled to resemble a red and white flower – leaving the outer peel intact allows focus on the contrast between the red textured outer skin and the smoothness and juiciness of the inner white fruit. The lychee reviver is served in a vintage cocktail glass.

Photographing the lychee reviver: Red lychees & love

In photographing the lychee reviver, I chose a textured dark grey background that allows the red and white of the lychee flower and the pale pink of the lychee reviver cocktail to stand out. In Chinese art red lychees have rich symbolic meaning including representing love and sensuality. I was lucky to be able to shoot these pictures when there were clouds so there is beautiful diffuse light. I used a vintage cream jug made of blue glass in an embossed silver frame to hold the lychees to photograph them as still life and with the lychee reviver cocktail.

Aroma & appearance: Lychee fragrance, colour, texture

Lychees have a stunning visual appearance with their contrasting red textured skin and internal white fruit and an amazing fragrance that is important in creating this lychee reviver cocktail. Aroma and visual appearance being key in creating a transformative experience through a cocktail. Flavour, taste, and texture are also crucial, but the first impression is created by the aroma and appearance.

How to create a lychee flower garnish

To create a lychee flower garnish simply make four cuts into the outer skin of the lychee carefully cutting the skin rather than the inner fruit.

Tip: Smaller lychees have more flexible skin and so are better for making this garnish as it is easier to peel back the skin to allow the inner white glistening fruit to be visible as the centre of your lychee flower.

To secure the lychee in your glass simply add a toothpick to the base of the fruit and use this to counterbalance the weight of the fruit against the side of the glass.

lychee reviver cocktail with lychee garnish

Summer lychee cocktail: Xmas love

The lychee reviver is a delicate and beautiful summer cocktail that uses the aroma and flavour of fresh lychees to create a beautiful lychee flower in a glass with lychee paired with citrus and spices including vanilla, pink pepper, and ginger. The red and white lychee flower of the lychee reviver invites love this Xmas season when it is needed more than ever.

Lychee Reviver: Pickle gin sour cocktail

Print Recipe
Serves: 1 small batch lychee shrub syrup (240mls); 1 lychee reviver cocktail Cooking Time: Lychee shrub syrup: 2 hours 30 minutes (15 minutes preparation, 15 minutes sterilise jar, 2 hours maceration); Lychee reviver cocktail: 5 minutes


  • Lychee shrub syrup: 1 cup lychees, washed, peeled, and deseeded, retain the seeds
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pink pepper
  • 1 small knob ginger, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 120mls coconut vinegar
  • Lychee reviver cocktail: ½ shot lychee shrub syrup
  • ½ shot Lillet Rose
  • ½ shot Soho Lychee Liqueur
  • ½ shot Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin
  • 1 dash Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • Glassware: vintage cocktail glass
  • Garnish: small fresh lychee peeled as a flower, secured with a toothpick



Lychee shrub syrup: Wash and peel the lychees, cut into halves, and remove seeds, retain the seeds


Add halved lychees and their seeds to a non-reactive container along with sugar, pink pepper, sliced ginger and vanilla essence


Add the lid to the container and shake to distribute the sugar evenly


Allow to macerate in the fridge for 2 hours


After 1 hour remove from the fridge and stir to distribute sugar and muddle with a muddling stick or potato masher to release juices, return to fridge for remaining hour


Meanwhile sterilise your jar, wash well with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly, place jar on cookie sheet in 110 C oven for 15 minutes or until completely dry, boil lid in small saucepan on stove top for 5 minutes, allow to air dry – for more information see Resources


Strain off the syrup from the lychees, seeds, and spices, using a fine mesh sieve, retain for another use such as desserts


Measure the yield of the lychee syrup and add equal parts coconut vinegar (my yield was 120mls, so I added 120mls coconut vinegar – adjust the amount of vinegar as needed to match syrup yield)


Pour the coconut vinegar through the mesh sieve over the lychees to dislodge any trapped sugar, press with the back of a spoon to release juices


Decant shrub syrup into sterilised jar and keep in the fridge


Lychee reviver cocktail: Place cocktail glass in freezer to chill


Create lychee flower garnish by washing a fresh lychee and then making 4 cuts into the outer red skin being careful not to cut the fruit inside, to create 4 petals


Use a small lychee for the garnish as the skin will be thinner and easier to manipulate


Peel back the petals to reveal the lychee fruit as centre of your flower


Add a plain toothpick to the top of the fruit where the stalk is to use as a counterbalance to add the flower to your cocktail


Add lychee shrub syrup, Lillet Rose, Lychee Liqueur, Dry Gin, and Ginger Liqueur to a cocktail shaker with ice


Seal tins and shake for 30 seconds


Fine strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lychee flower garnish on a toothpick


Shrub syrups

Michael Dietsch (2016). Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, Second Edition. Countryman Press: New York.

Cocktail manuals

Harry Craddock (1930). The Savoy Cocktail Book. Dover: New York.

De Groff (2002). The craft of the cocktail: Everything you need to know to be a master bartender, with 500 recipes. Clarkson Potter: New York.

Gary Regan (2018). Joy of Mixology: The consummate guide to the bartender’s craft. Revised Edition. Clarkson Potter: New York.

E. Ricket & C. Thomas (1871). A Gentleman’s Table Guide. H. Born: London.

Jerry Thomas (1862, 2018 reprint). The Bar-tender’s Guide: Bon-vivant’s companion. Dick & Fitzgerald: New York, reprint by Thomas Majhen.

Jerry Thomas (1887, 2016 reprint). Jerry Thomas’ Bar-tender’s Guide: How to mix all kinds of plain and fancy drinks. Dick & Fitzgerald: New York, reprint by Dover Publications: New York.

David Wondrich (2015). Imbibe. Perigree: New York.

Online Corpse Reviver recipes & history

Simon Difford (accessed 2020). Corpse Reviver No.2 (Savoy Recipe). In Difford’s Guide.

Simon Difford (accessed 2020). Corpse Reviver cocktails – recipes & history. In Difford’s Guide.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler (accessed 2020). How to make a Corpse Reviver #2. In Imbibe.

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