How the Vesper Martini Got Its Name

Vesper

The Vesper Martini, also known as the Vesper, is a cocktail that was invented by the James Bond author Ian Fleming and made famous by James Bond. The drink made its first appearance in Fleming’s 1953 book titled “Casino Royale.” Named after the fictional double agent Vesper Lynd, this cocktail is purely functional and most probably the most famous drink order in history. The Vesper Martini recipe makes a strong drink with four ounces of pull-proof spirits and a half-ounce of low-proof Lillet blanc. In “Casino Royale” book, James Bond claims that he has never had more than one drink before dinner when he is concentrating, but he prefers that one drink to be very large. Read to learn more about the Vesper Martini.

The History of the Vesper Martini

According to Parade, the Vesper Martini was not created by some famous mixologist in a luxurious bar or copied from some ancient naval recipe; instead, this classic cocktail is inherently linked with Ian Fleming’s spy series that it was dubbed with the name “Bond’s Vesper. It was in Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953, that the main character James Bond lists some specific instructions as to how a Vesper Martini should be made. Unlike the original Martini recipe, the Bond Vesper incorporates an additional dimension, made with one measure of vodka, three measures of Gordon’s gin, and half a measure of Kina Lillet, an aromatized wine. Bond requested for the cocktail to be served in a champagne goblet glass and with a large lemon peel garnish. The Vesper Martini recipe is very interesting as it involves combining vodka and gin with Kina Lillet, which is commonly substituted with dry vermouth or Lillet Blanc. However, the Bond Vesper Martini version mainly specifies the inclusion of two ingredients with the exception of the Kina Lillet.

Despite being a fictional character, the secret double agent James Bond is believed to be the first person to introduce this fantastic cocktail to the world. Compared to the gin martini, the Vesper Martini cocktail has a slightly sweet and bitter taste due to the aromatized Lillet wine. James Bond claims he likes his Vesper Martini “shaken, not stirred”; he adds that the drink would taste even better with a grain-based vodka. Later on in the book, Bond meets the beautiful Vesper Lynd, who he immediately falls in love with, only to find out later that she is a double agent. The book describes her as the only woman the 007 agent James Bond ever loved. Since it is currently almost impossible to create a Vesper Martini according to James Bond specifications, the aromatized wine Kina Lillet is no longer brewed. Most professional mixologists have tried substituting the Kina Lillet wine with Lillet Blanc, which surprisingly works well but is as good as the original Kina Lillet taste. Some mixologists try to replicate the original Vesper Martini taste by infusing their vodka with cinchona bark, which gets the job done. Nonetheless, the Vesper Martini is a drink that both vodka and gin drinkers will enjoy and can be easily tweaked to their taste preferences.

How to Make a Perfectly Stirred Vesper

When making a perfectly stirred Vesper Martini, you will need to use mixing glasses or even stir in a cocktail shaker or any form of tall glass available. According to Robbreport, below are some of the basic ingredients you will need;

  • 1 Part Vodka
  • 3 Parts Gordon’s Gin
  • ½ Part Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano
  • A Julep or Hawthorne strainer
  • 2-3 Dashes Cinchona Infused Liquor
  • Mixing glasses or a long-handled spoon

Directions

  • Pour the gin, vodka, and the Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano into a glass.
  • Fill your mixing glass with about three-quarters of ice.
  • With the long-handled spoon, stir the contents in the glass well.
  • Use the Julep or Hawthorne strainer to strain your cocktail out of the shaker or glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist.

Note: Place your long-handled spoon between the ice and mixing glass, ensuring the cubes are in the middle of the glass so that they will move together like a clump of ice. This will allow you to stir your cocktail quickly and smoothly.

What does a Vesper martini taste like?

According to Thespruceeats, the Vesper Martini with the Lillet Blanc has a sort of sweet taste that blends well with the bitter taste of the dry gin. As mentioned earlier, the Vesper Martini is made with three essential ingredients, namely; vodka, gin, and an aromatized wine (Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc). The inclusion of vodka into this classic cocktail gives it an explosion of flavors, which can be generally described as unique and tasty. Moreover, the Vesper Martini is a very boozy cocktail because it contains about 4 ounces of liquor and a subtle splash of Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano (depending on your taste preferences).

Should the Vesper Be Shaken or Stirred?

Over the years, there have been many disagreements on whether the Vesper Martini should be shaken as James Bond prefers it, or stirred. Most bartenders often advocate that this classic cocktail should be stirred, not shaken, like other Martinis such as the Gin Martini or the Regular Vodka. These bartenders argue that shaking your Vesper Martin often “bruises” the gin and give the cocktail a slightly cloudy appearance, making it a little rougher around the edges by leaving tiny shards of ice. On the other hand, having your Vesper Martin stirred helps keep the drink smooth and colder.

What is the Best Gin and Vodka for Bond’s Vesper Martini?

With tine, the original Ian Fleming’s Vesper Martini recipe has frequently been changed as the aromatized wine Kina Lillet is no longer being produced. Moreover, the original Gordon’s Gin ingredient has been substituted with different gin versions, i.e., Gordon’s Gin available in the United Kingdom is different from that found in the United States today. While Gordon’s is an ideal everyday gin, there are now various better gin options such as the Beefeater, Plymouth Gin, or Tanqueray to include in your Vesper Martini. As for the vodka, it remains unchanged.

Final Thoughts

The Vesper Martini can be described as a classic, crisp, and herbal cocktail. Despite the twist on a classic Vesper Martini on whether it should be stirred or shaken, it has undoubtedly become the true definition of an extraordinary “boozy” cocktail in the world.

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