The Vesper… The Original 007 Martini…

Okay tonight at midnight I am going to go see “Skyfall” the latest in th James Bond 007 series of films… As always I LOVE to go see these movies in style. Granted I can’t afford an Astin Martin and $400 suits. I still like to dress nice, have a nice meal with my date and of course share a “Vesper Martini” or two or three… What is this drink you ask? The ‘Vesper Martini’ is the famous drink, ordered by James Bond in both the book and the movie “Casino Royale.

The recipe for Bond’s “Vesper” martini, as described in the 1953 book: ‘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?’ For those of you who don’t like to read… The recipe for Bond’s “Vesper” martini, as described in the 2006 movie: ‘Three measures of Gordon’s; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel. To make this drink yourself, you have to mix the ingredients, strain, and serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a large thin slice of lemon peel. In the movie, when Vesper asks Bond if he named the drink after her “because of the bitter aftertaste”, 007 replies that he named it for her, “because once you have tasted it, you won’t drink anything else.” Try it yourself, and let others know what you think by writing a comment below or visiting the forum!

Kina Lillet, now called Lillet, is hard to find in regular stores, but can easily be purchased online at Amazon.com ($14), but you could replace this with another dry Vermouth if necessary. As Lillet is slightly different from the original Kina Lillet, you might want to add a small dash of bitters to recreate the original taste even more accurately.

The brand of vodka is not specified in the novel or the film, but both Stolichnaya and Smirnoff have a Bond connection. I on the other hand do prefer Tito’s handmade vodka.

Since both Kina Lillet and Gordon’s have been reformulated since 1953, substitutes can be made that attempt to recapture the original flavour of the drink:

  • Lillet Blanc is the closest possible choice for Kina Lillet– the “Kina” was dropped due to market relevance, as European tastes have run more to sweeter drinks than digestifs.
  • Cocchi Americano is considered an acceptable substitute.
  • For a more traditional flavour, use 50% (100-proof) Stolichnaya vodka to bring the alcohol content of the vodka back to 1953 levels. This will also reproduce the desirable “grain vodka” flavor mentioned by Bond in the book.
  • Tanqueray gin provides the traditional flavour of 47% (94-proof) gin; whereas Gordon’s Gin, in the UK domestic market, has been reformulated to less than 40% (80-proof). A 47% (94-proof) Export version of Gordon’s Gin still exists today.

For a more off the lshelf verion follow this recipe… Shake (if you must) with plenty of cracked ice. 3 oz Tanqueray gin, 1 oz 50% (100-proof) Stolichnaya vodka, 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc, 1/8 teaspoon (or less) quinine powder or, in desperation, 2 dashes of bitters. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and twist a large swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top.

More about Gordon’s Gin Gordon’s is a famous British brand of Gin, developed in 1769. The recipe for Gordon’s is known to 12 people in the world and has been kept a secret for 200 years. Gordon’s can be purchased in most liquor stores…

More about Lillet Kina Lillet is nowadays simply names “Lillet”. Lillet (pronounced lee-lay), is a French Aperitif made from a blend of wine, liqueurs, fruits and herbs. It originated in the French village of Podensac and has been made since the late 1800s. Lillet Blanc is made from white wine and is drier than Lillet Rouge, its red-wine counterpart. Both are classically served over ice with an orange twist. Lillet is a blend of rigorously selected wines and fruit liqueurs, aged in oak vats for around 12 months, during which it is given the same care as the Grands Crus (great wines) of Bordeaux. Lillet Blanc has a golden color with candied orange, honey, pine resin, lime and fresh mint aromas. Full and rich on the palate with a lovely, long aftertaste.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Loree says:

    Sounds like an excellent date! I’ve actually always wondered what the big deal was about martinis, and I still have never had one. Guess I’m going to have to try one now…

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