Spotted Bear Spirits and Glacier Distilling Company

Story & photography by Lido Vizzutti

It is difficult to project what the world will be like by the time this article is published.

The pandemic has changed our routines, to say the least. Yet we adapt. We order our growlers online and call orders into our favorite distillery for a curbside pickup. We gather virtually and share stories over martinis or frothy pints, across the country, with our computers on our laps.

According to a May Nielsen report, during a seven-week coronavirus-impacted period, ending April 18, online sales of alcohol were up 234% from the previous year.

“In fact, alcohol is the fastest-growing e-commerce department among consumer-packaged goods,” the report says.

Historically, alcohol sales have skyrocketed in times of illness and war. Gin — with its infused, herbal essences — has been touted for centuries as a tonic for illness and was used as medicine during the bubonic plague.

During the outbreak of Spanish influenza, advertisements in newspapers promoted wines and liquors — mostly whiskey — to be used as medicine to “repel the influenza bacillus.”

“Don’t wait for the ‘Flu’ to come to you — guard against this plague in time,” announced a full-page alcohol ad in a 1918 Syracuse Herald.

In a 1918 Post-Standard (Syracuse, N.Y.) article, “Five hundred gallons of whiskey, held by county authorities as evidence against alleged ‘bootleggers,’ today were ordered turned over to Omaha hospitals to be used in the fight against Spanish influenza.”

New variations of cocktails are conceived during these times as well, including the Corpse Reviver No. 1 and No. 2.

Versions of the cocktail existed for decades before London’s Savoy Hotel created the modern version during the Spanish flu pandemic. The original recipe of No. 1 was made using cognac, apple brandy and sweet vermouth. The Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930, recommended that the No. 1 “be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed.”

If you have ever ordered a Corpse Reviver, however, it is almost certainly the No. 2. Its mix of floral gin, Lillet sweetness, orange liqueur and tart punch of fresh-squeezed lemon juice is a go-to favorite for home or on the town.

“The Corpse Reviver No. 2 was actually the first cocktail that got me interested in cocktails,” said Meagan Schmoll, a cocktail consultant and educator based in the Flathead Valley. “It was a combination of flavors I’ve never had before. With a touch of anise, orange, floral, a kind of grapfruity essence from the Lillet Blanc, and then the juniper dry flavor.”

“They all played so well together,” she added. “Every ingredient mattered.”

It’s an eye opener, bracing yet pleasant and fresh.

“It was just a whole botanical mouthful,” Schmoll said. “It made you sit up straight in your seat and question, ‘What am I drinking?’”

With easy-to-mix ratios, this cocktail can easily be tweaked for personal preferences. Add more gin for a boozier, floral punch. Dial back on the lemon juice to make it a little less tart.

“Explore and try it with both the Spotted Bear and Whistling Andy’s Cucumber,” she said. “By just switching out the gin, you change your whole flavor profile to something with an elegant cucumber twist.”

Heed the Savoy Cocktail Book’s warning, however, as you log onto your next Zoom happy hour: “Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.”

Recipe: Corpse Reviver 2

¾ oz. gin*

¾ oz. triple sec (or orange liqueur)

¾ oz. Lillet Blanc

¾ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice

absinthe**

Rinse a chilled glass with absinthe. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and pour. Garnish with lemon twist.

* Spotted Bear Gin from Spotted Bear Spirits, Whitefish (for a variation, substitute with Cucumber Gin from Whistling Andy Distillery, Bigfork)

** Trail of The Cedars Absinthe from Glacier Distilling Company, Coram