It may be “shaken, not stirred” for this Friday’s Cocktail, the Vesper!
In the pages of Casino Royale, in 1953, James Bond orders up a dry martini. “Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
The drink was served up in a coupe glass. A chapter later, and agent 007 names the drink, Vesper, after meeting the beautiful Vesper Lynd.
Though author Ian Fleming is often created with the creation of the drink, he was actually introduced to it by his friend, Ivar Bryce. See more about the drink here.
Today, Kina Lillet doesn’t exist per se. In 1986, it was reformulated and renamed Lillet Blanc. The drink is made from a blend of white wines and is a French aperitif. The current Lillet Blanc is considered fruiter and not as bitter as Kina Lillet. An Italian aperitif, Cocchi Americano, is often used as a substitute because it’s considered closest to the original taste of Kina Lillet. Read more about Lillet Blanc here.
What you’ll need: Gin, Vodka, and Lillet Blanc.
Chill your martini glass beforehand. In a shaker over cracked ice, pour in 3 ounces gin, 1 once of vodka, and 1/2 once Lillet Blanc. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
How I like it: The Vesper is a smooth, light alternative to the classic martini. I used Bombay Sapphire for the gin and Grey Goose for the vodka. Inadvertently, I used an orange-flavored Grey Goose, but the added hint of citrus didn’t detract and blended well. The most difficult to come by ingredient may be the Lillet Blanc, but it’s worth hunting it down. And yes, I don’t mind a fruiter, less bitter taste. Best served chilled, the Vesper is perfect for an evening watching Bond films or hanging out in a tux or smoking jacket.
As James Bond said, “I never have more than one drink before dinner.” It pays for a spy to stay alert; you should too. Drink responsibly!