Sophisticated, yet simple, “shaken, not stirred,” the most iconic of the James Bond cocktails, the Vesper Martini, first gained attention in the first 007 novel, Casino Royale. Although this was only ordered once by Bond throughout the series of books, the drink became synonymous with the character. This elegant, yet powerful cocktail contains four ounces of booze and as the secret agent says, it’s “one large, very strong, and very well made drink.” Known first as a perfect pre-dinner drink and later as an even better digestif, “once you’ve tasted it, it’s all you want to drink.”
The Vesper Martini was created by James Bond author Ian Flemming. As previously mentioned, the drink first appeared in his book Casino Royale, which was published in 1953, and the cocktail is named for the (spoiler) fictional double agent Vesper Lynd. Although this is where the drink first gained popularity amongst the public, Fleming originally got his inspiration for the drink at Duke’s bar in London where acclaimed bartender Gilberto Preti was whipping up martinis, the drink of choice at that time.
The Vesper Martini
- 3 ounces gin
- 1 ounce vodka
- 1/2 ounce Lillet blanc
- Garnish: lemon twist
Add the gin, vodka and Lillet blanc into a mixing glass with ice and stir (yes, it’s actually more common to make the Vesper as a stirred cocktail) until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Express the oils from a lemon twist over the drink, rub the twist along the rim of the glass and drop it into the cocktail
To stay true to the Bond way, remember to shake, not stir this cocktail. It will make the drink more diluted, which helps mitigate the booziness.
As opposed to the classic martini, the Vesper uses both gin and vodka, and Kina Lillet instead of the usual dry vermouth.
Since Kina Lillet was discontinued in 1986 and the proof of Gordon’s Gin was cut in 1992, the original recipe can no longer be made exactly. Substitutes can be made that attempt to recapture the original flavor of the drink. Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, or Broker’s gin provides the traditional ABV of 47%. Cocchi Americano can be used as a substitute for Kina Lillet to recreate the original recipe. Lastly, using a 50% ABV vodka brings the alcohol content of the vodka back to 1953 levels.
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