Since launching in 2014, Durham Distillery, in the North Carolina Triangle, has garnered accolades and awards for its lineup of spirits, including the popular Conniption Gin. So, owners Melissa and Lee Katrincic decided to expand the business: They would open their first bar to highlight the products. Once they acquired a space, though, the building’s spooky past came to light.
“We began hearing what we thought was an urban legend—that part of the building used to house a pine coffin manufacturer,” Melissa recalls. “It wasn’t until we started doing some research and speaking with longtime residents that we found out that the urban legend was in fact true.”
They leaned into the history, naming the space Corpse Reviver Bar & Lounge, a nod to both the classic cocktail and the building’s past, and opened in October 2020. Behind the art deco–inspired bar, which mimics the flagship gin’s bottle design, bar manager MJ Weber started to craft creative spins on gin cocktails using the Conniption line. “Our goal is to remove the intimidation of martinis and enable fun exploration,” Weber says.
Of course, the namesake Corpse Reviver #2 cocktail has a place on the menu, which gets special treatment during October. The drink dates back to the 1800s as a “hair of the dog” beverage and was popularized by 1930’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. The bar’s version uses Conniption American Dry Gin, served on draft with a nitrogen push. “This technique results in a creamier mouthfeel without changing the flavor profile of the cocktail,” Weber says. “It is consistently our best seller.”
During the Halloween season, Weber adds a red wine foam made with an air stone and aquarium pump and serves the cocktail in a coupe glass in a wooden coffin. But at-home mixologists can still get a similar effect without those tools: Weber recommends adding simple syrup (with a little higher ratio of sugar to water than usual), food coloring of your choice, and a bit of gelatin to a shaker. Whisk until frothy, then use a large spoon to ladle the foam on top of the cocktail.