The Vesper cocktail, invented by Ian Fleming for James Bond in the 1953 book Casino Royale, is probably one of the most written-about cocktails in history. As penned by Fleming, it is made per a gin martini, but with vodka added, and the vermouth swapped out for Kina Lillet.
Let’s get this out of the way first: making the 1953 original is impossible. Gordon’s gin, specified in the recipe, has been reformulated since then, and has a different alcohol content. Kina Lillet has had its quinine removed, and is now just ‘Lillet.’
That said, you can still make a damn fine replica. I use Gordon’s gin and Russian Standard vodka. The Lillet is critical – vermouth does not taste the same. In general, use high-quality ingredients, because no single component has anywhere to hide here. The Vesper is a furiously alcoholic drink, so beware.
Despite the convention for stirring normal martini cocktails, a Vesper would not be a Vesper if it were not “Shaken, but not stirred.”
- 75ml Gordon's London gin
- 25ml Russian Standard vodka
- 15ml Lillet Blanc
- Twist of lemon peel
Place a martini glass in the freezer.
Shake the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker full of ice.
Strain into the frosted glass and garnish with the lemon peel.
In the Fleming books, Bond only ever ordered this drink once, preferring a standard vodka martini with an olive. To make that, use three measures of vodka, half a measure of vermouth bianco, manufacture in the same way and pop in a pitted olive.