A History Lesson With Booze ®

The Corpse Reviver Royale

This week in 1927, on the eve of releasing the first “talkie” feature, a tooth infection rendered studio chief Sam Warner forever silent. Chase down the history with a spin on a classic cocktail that raises the dead.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The History Lesson

The movie The Jazz Singer premiere. Your dinner party guests may know it was the first feature film with actual dialogue but they might not know that The Jazz Singer saved a movie studio and killed its CEO.

His name was Sam Warner. One of the four brothers behind Warner Brothers. Back then, it was a struggling studio. And its biggest star was a dog: Rin Tin Tin. Sam wanted to change that with something called “Vitaphone.”

It was a process that synced sound from a record with images on a screen. No one thought it was a big deal. Even Sam’s brothers. Especially after they released the first Vitaphone feature: “Don Juan.” It had sound effects, a music score, and it raked in tons of cash — just not as much as it cost to make. The studio was nearly broke.

But not for long! “The Jazz Singer” opened on October 6th 1927. And the audience went nuts when star singer Al Jolson uttered the first line of dialogue. It was a blockbuster — Warner Brothers hit the big time.

Sam didn’t live to see it, though. He’d been so busy with the movie? He hadn’t cared for his abscessed teeth. Which infected his brain and killed him — the night before The Jazz Singer’s debut.

The Booze

The Corpse Reviver Royale

Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com
Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com

As exhumed and reanimated by Maxwell Britten, bartender at Freeman’s Restaurant in NYC… where “The Jazz Singer” is set and where the movie debuted.


  • 3/4 ounce gin
  • 3/4 ounce Cointreau
  • 3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • Dash absinthe


Combine ingredients in a chilled coupe glass. Stir and top off with Champagne. Silently toast your companions. Drink and speak stirring words. Call your dentist and schedule a checkup.