Nov. 1, 1932
All Souls’ Day
AVERY WAS NOT dead … not quite. Annabelle peeked in on him where he lay, in the cavernous, ebony four-poster bed of his ancestors, lit dramatically by a single shaft of light from the swollen moon shining through the floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains. Not dead … but not quite alive, either, hovering in the in-between realm of shadow from whence he could do nought but moan, and call her name, and occasionally ask for an ice pack.
But Annabelle could not leave him, not like that. She had to get him on his feet; back to the world; and to her waiting, lonely arms, and also they had to catch the train to a dentist appointment in Paris, lest they be forced to pay a late cancellation fee.
She needed … a Corpse Reviver.
A Corpse Reviver, it was said, was a cocktail meant for the day after a party, to reanimate the body of one whose flesh was laid low by the demon liquor. She knew not how to make it herself, although the old crone they met by the roadside on the way home had muttered something about “hair of the dog.” But Annabelle was no witch; she would not serve her beloved some ancient brew containing animal bits.
In her desperation, she turned to the voluminous shelves of her uncle’s library, where she found, tucked away in a corner covered in a curtain of cobwebs, a book. “The Savoy Cocktail Book,” it said on the cover, published in 1930, just after Prohibition, a tony manual purchased by her uncle in New York that already had begun to define the modern cocktail, with recipes for libations like the White Lady and the Hanky Panky, many of which had done in Avery at the Halloween party the night before.
But from this same tome would come a cure, for there she found it … or rather, them. For the not-particularly-ancient book contained more than one recipe for the promised Corpse Reviver. She began with Corpse Reviver No. 1, which required two parts cognac, one part Calvados (apple brandy) and one part sweet Vermouth.
Hastily, Annabelle dashed to her uncle’s thankfully well-stocked bar and, with shaking fingers, cobbled the drink together (stirred, not shaken, with ice) and even managed a convincing lemon twist. And this she brought to her beloved, who managed, albeit with more moaning and complaints about her loud footsteps, to consume it.
And then she waited. She tried to occupy herself with satin gowns and Prohibition-era jazz, but after several hours, there was no change in Avery, except in the volume of his snoring, and the sun was setting once again.
In desperation, she turned back to the book. Perhaps she’d done something wrong? But lo — there was another recipe! Corpse Reviver No. 2. This required equal parts gin, lemon juice, Curaçao (an orange-flavored liqueur in a shocking shade of bright blue), one part Lillet Blanc (a French wine-based aperitif) and a dash of absinthe, all shaken together, poured over ice and optimally served in a chilled coupé glass.
The gin was easy to procure, and the lemon juice, also. The Lillet she found in her uncle’s wine cellar after an hour of searching by the light of a theatrically guttering candle. Even the absinthe was easy, because it recently had been the 1920s, so everyone still drank absinthe, even in Transylvania. But Annabelle moaned in despair, for who, even her socially inclined uncle, would keep a whole bottle of Curaçao around the house? Triple Sec would have been an acceptable alternative, but apparently her uncle did not care for oranges, for none there was.
And so she ran. Through the ageless wood, her waist-length curls tossed by the bitter wind, pursued by wolves. Her feet bled in her party shoes, but she pushed on until, improbably, she saw it — a light in the trees, otherworldly and glowing, illuminating a strange little shack with just two words painted on the side: DUTY FREE. And standing outside it was the crone from the road, holding a bright blue bottle in her gnarled hands.
“Welcome,” she told Annabelle, her voice an inky abyss of emptiness. “I knew you’d come.”