The Vesper martini is steeped in the mystique of the infamous 007, or as you might know him, Bond. James Bond. This cocktail was originally conceived by Ian Fleming, author of the spy novel series, and was featured in the first novel in which James Bond appears. The film series' success helped turn this simple literary line into a legendary drink. While the story that surrounds this drink may actually be more popular than the concoction itself, every Martini aficionado should try this iconic cocktail at least once.
While you may find slight variations from one recipe to the next, this recipe is the most common, modern version of the Vesper martini. The recipe calls for Lillet Blanc, a French apéritif, in place of the original Kina Lillet, which the original recipe called for. While Bond likes his Vesper "shaken, not stirred," the rules of good cocktail making suggest that cocktails made from pure spirits should be stirred to avoid over-aeration and excessive dilution of the drink. This version differs from 007's preferred method by sticking to the classic cocktail-making technique instead. However, if you want to experience the Bond-style cocktail in its purest form, 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
Variations and Substitutions
Any change of ingredients or proportions greatly alters the type of martini you're drinking, but there is some room for swaps and variance.
- Try a different style of gin, such as Old Tom, Plymouth, or Genever.
- Experiment with different styles and brands of vodka.
- If you don't have Lillet Blanc, use white sweet vermouth with two dashes of orange bitters.
- Reverse the proportions, with vodka as the main spirit and less gin.
Garnishes add a pop of color to crystal clear martinis. With such a crisp and neutral palette, any garnish can affect both the flavor and nose, so choose wisely.
- Try an orange twist in place of lemon for a warmer finish.
- Add a dehydrated orange or lemon wheel.
- Use olives, plain or blue cheese stuffed, for a savory flavor.
The Vesper Martini's Origin Story
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 about how to make his drink. At this point in Fleming's story, the cocktail hasn't been given a proper name yet, though later it's named after the double agent who Bond becomes romantically involved with, the mysterious Vesper Lynd.
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, to avoid the unglamorous results of overindulging. As they say, too much of anything is never good.