The vesper martini is steeped in the mystique of 007, also known as Bond... James Bond. The vesper martini is a cocktail that was originally conceived by Ian Fleming, author of the spy novel series, for inclusion in the first book, and it became a Bond mainstay. The story that surrounds this drink may actually be more popular than the concoction itself, but nevertheless, every martini aficionado should try this iconic cocktail at least once.
How to Make a Vesper Martini
While you may find slight variations from one recipe to the next, this is perhaps the most common, modern version of a vesper martini. This recipe calls for Lillet Blanc, a French apéritif, in place of the original Kina Lillet. While Bond likes his vesper "shaken, not stirred," the rules of good cocktail making suggest that cocktails made from pure spirits such as a classic martini or a vesper martini, should be stirred to avoid over-aeration and excessive dilution of the drink. This version follows classic cocktail making technique instead of 007's preferred method. If you want to truly experience the Bond-style cocktail, then feel free to shake away.
- Chill a cocktail glass.
- In a mixing glass, combine the gin, vodka, and Lillet Blanc.
- Add the ice and stir.
- Strain the mixture into the chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish the drink with a strip of lemon peel.
Story Behind the Vesper Martini
The original recipe for the vesper was included in Fleming's 1953 novel, Casino Royal. In chapter 7 on page 45, Bond gives a bartender very specific directions how to make the drink. At that moment in the story, the drink does not yet have a name. The cocktail is later named after the double agent spy who Bond becomes involved with romantically, the mysterious Vesper Lynd.
To paraphrase the original recipe found in the novel, Bond asks for a dry martini to be served in a Champagne goblet. He then specifies:
- Three measures of Gordon's (gin)
- One measure of vodka
- A half measure of Kina Lillet
Bond further instructs that the ingredients must be shaken (not stirred) until they are very cold, and the cocktail should be garnished with a thin slice of lemon peel.
Kina Lillet No Longer Available
Unfortunately, Kina Lillet was reformulated in 1986 and is now largely unavailable unless you run across someone who still has a stash. The less bitter version is now referred to as Lillet Blanc. However, Cocchi Americano is considered by some enthusiasts to be a closer match for the flavor of Kina Lillet, so you can try mixing a Vesper with each of these aperitifs in turn and decide which version you like best.
Drink Your Vesper Martini With Caution
Any cocktail that includes 4½ ounces of spirits is bound to pack a punch, so be sure to pace yourself. In fact, you might even want to cut the current recipe in half or split it with a friend, which might even be more fun than drinking one alone.