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Vesper Cocktail

Vesper Cocktail



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Feeling a bit dangerous and debonair? Try a Vesper, a.k.a. the original James Bond Martini, made with vodka, gin, and Lillet Blonde.MORE+LESS-

Orange Peel for garnish, if desired

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  • 1

    Chill martini glass in the freezer for a few minutes.

  • 2

    Add ice, vodka, gin and Lillet to a cocktail shaker.

  • 3

    Shake and strain in to the chilled martini glass.

  • 4

    Garnish with orange peel, if desired.

No nutrition information available for this recipe

More About This Recipe

  • Aperitifs are the cocktail trend of the minute, one liqueur is rising in the ranks of popularity within the world of the these herbal, pre-dinner liqueurs.While Campari and Fernet Branca may be more familiar brands, another old time favorite is beginning to make a comeback. Suze has been around since the late 1800s, but the early 21st Century may prove to be the spirit's most exciting time.What is Suze?The brand was founded in 1889 and was used in the cocktails of the time, which were much more bitter than today's imbibers are used to. Although the yellow liqueur never really caught on stateside, that's not because of the public's palate. For a long time it was available only in Europe, but it's now making a comeback with American drinkers because bartenders discovered the stuff and demanded that it become available. When bartenders talk, the alcohol companies listen.How Does it Taste?Like any aperitif, the liqueur's actual recipe is a closely guarded secret, but the main flavor is yellow gentian. Yellow whaaa??? This European plant is known by the nickname "bitter root," so you know what you're in store for. Fans of super sugary drinks probably won't want to get a bottle for their home bar, but if you are open to expanding your palate in an unexpected direction, you might be surprised. The root was traditionally used in medicines, and to subdue that "medicinal" taste Suze has clearly added a bit of sweet. The bitterness is played off with notes of citrus, and you'll get some grass and earth in there as well. We would compare it to another liqueur, but like all of the brands in this category it has a flavor profile all of its own.
  • How Do You Drink It?If you want to be a true traditionalist, get a glass, pour it, and go. The spirit is meant to be sipped on its own, but it can quickly become overpowering to even the most fearless drinker. Some ice helps. So does some champagne. Pour some into your glass of bubbly (preferably a sweeter variety) for an interesting burst of flavor. Or, you can just do a Suze and soda - a bit of seltzer will make the experience less intense. Add one ounce of aperitif and three ounces seltzer over ice, and instead of a lemon reach for a wedge of orange.Some Cocktail Ideas:Kir RoyaleYou can make a modified Kir Royale with the champagne or if you want to adapt other cocktails you can use this in place of Lillet in a classic Vesper - while it seems boozy the vodka can cut the bitterness nicely.

Vesper

A true Bond-style cocktail, the Vesper was first mentioned by writer Ian Fleming in his 1953 novel, Casino Royale, as a drink order detailed by Bond himself. He specifies a strong formula of vodka, gin and Kina Lillet, “shaken, not stirred,” of course. Some historians have speculated that Bond slipped up in specifying Kina Lillet—a quinine-flavored white wine aperitif whose distillery also produced vermouth—intending for vermouth all along. The formula for Lillet has since changed, circa mid-1980s, making way for a new lighter, sweeter version with a lower dosage of quinine. As such, the classic Vesper specs may drown out the delicacy of Lillet’s contemporary recipe. To remedy, PUNCH suggests upping the proportion of Lillet. However, Cocchi Americano, a bittersweet Italian aperitivo, is probably the most accurate substitute for the Kina Lillet of days gone by. And though Bond said “shake,” we most definitely say, “stir.”

Photo originally published in Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons, copyright © 2011. Photo by Ed Anderson © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.


How to Make a Vesper

James Bond was good at many things, but inventing a cocktail was not one of them.

  1. Stir ingredients briskly with ice in a mixing tin until very cold.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a large, thin-cut lemon peel.

James Bond displayed prowess in many disciplines. Driving gadget-laden Aston Martins! Sassing M! Wearing the hell out of a suit! But that prowess all but abandoned him where a Vesper crossed his path&mdashthe woman he loved, who betrayed him, and the drink he invented in her memory, which lives on to confuse us all.

Bond made the Vesper a cocktail known the world over that's the power of a strong personal brand. But had Bond (or rather, author Ian Fleming) not been its creator, it likely would not have stood a chance on its own. The Vesper, adjacent to a proper martini but nowhere near as balanced, has potency going for it, sure. The ratios of gin, vodka, and Lillet (a French aperitif used as a vermouth substitute) deserves to be questioned, but we won't tamper with Bond's recipe. Where we will go rogue is the Vesper's construction. As you and everyone else in the galaxy knows, Bond ordered martinis shaken, not stirred, but that's no way to get one bone-chillingly cold. We'd have you stir, not shake. Like this:

A Little Background

In Fleming's 1953 novel Casino Royale, Bond ordered the following yet-unnamed cocktail from a bartender: "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?" His directions were crystal clear, and for his trouble, he got what would haven been an ill-proportioned drink, where the Lillet got drowned by gin, which in turn was not nearly drowned enough by the vodka. Shortly thereafter Bond named the Vesper. And then he never ordered it on the page again.

A lot has changed since 1953&mdashhell, six men have played Bond since&mdashand that includes the ingredients in Bond's original Vesper. Gordon's gin is no longer as strong as it used to be, for one. For another, Lillet altered its formula Kina Lillet became the less-bitter Lillet Blanc. In this how-to, we have the original recipe as Bond ordered it, but look here for ways to tweak it so that it more closely replicates the 1953 version.

If You Like This, Try These

The Vesper has the honor of being Bond's own invention, but it wasn't the drink he favored. For that, you'd have to make a Vodka Martini, or Gin Martini. You'll probably enjoy it loads more. In keeping with the Bond theme, you could also make yourself an Old Fashioned, a Scotch and Soda, or an Americano&mdashall ordered by the agent at one point or another.

What You Need

Here&rsquos what you need to do a Vesper justice, beyond what you might be able to dig out of the fridge or cupboard.


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Substitutions for the Kina Lillet

Kina Lillet stopped being produced in the 1980s. So today the less bitter fortified and aromatized wine Lillet Blanc is often used in its place.

Some say that Cocchi Americano makes for a better substitute because it’s a bit more bitter, like the Kina. Lillet Blanc can be a bit easier to find (it’s even sold at my local Whole Foods), but Cocchi will make for a more authentic Vesper. Both will make for a great cocktail.


Vesper

Every single thing about a Vesper is elegant, highbrow, and dangerous. Few cocktails can totally change how you look, and how you feel in the moment like a Vesper.

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces Botanical Gin. Try The Botanist or Silent Pool
  • 1 ounce Vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc or Kina Lillet

Instructions

Add all to a mixing glass.

Strain into a coupe or champagne flute.

Creating Great Craft Cocktails

Over the years I have made a large number of cocktails, but it was not until about the last year I focused on making great ones. Previously, I made the usual drinks. Like a blender full of frozen strawberries, a bunch of rum, lime juice and sugar, for a strawberry daiquiri sort of thing. Around a 2018 I began seriously studying cocktails in earnest. Because of this deeper dedication the quality of my cocktails improved to craft mixologist level.

There were three things that helped the most, and two of them were probably not surprising. The two that are simply logical are high quality ingredients and knowledge of technique. The final element was a study in depth of cocktail history. I found I needed a base of knowledge to guide me and my ability to make amazing cocktails others will like.

The Similarity Between Cocktails and Cuisine

Creating an excellent meal is similar to creating an excellent cocktail. In contrast though cocktails are faster and much less forgiving. Rarely do cocktails have more than 6 ingredients. Also as rarely, they are not prepared over a long period of time usually less than 2 minutes. Similar to cuisine, people like what they like. If someone hates lobster, no mater how well you prepare it, its still lobster. I have found the same goes for alcohol, gin haters can taste gin, and will hate it.

Cocktails, like cuisine, are about balance. Balance in food comes from 6 profiles, which are, sweet, sour, spicy salty, bitter, and unmami. Cocktails balance on only four, those are sweet, sour, boozy and dilution. Therefore by paying attention to the balance it is far easier to make a great cocktail.

Three Aspects of a Great Cocktail

High Quality Ingredients

High quality is harder in cocktails than one might expect, the non alcoholic ingredients have shelf lives, and take effort. The alcoholic ingredients can be very expensive and, at times of a limited usefulness. Making syrups, and always having fresh fruit on hand is important. As is having the proper liquor. But if you want something like a Corpse Revivier #2, possibly one of the most balanced and perfectly made cocktails, you will need Lilet, but how often will you use it? In a vesper maybe,or a Lilet cocktail, but it’s not a common ingredient. High quality is hard in cocktails. It took me over a year to build my bar, which is currently well north of 100 different bottles. I really had to commit. Not everyone has to go to this level, but having expensive straggler bottles is a side effect.

Technique

I came to realize that professional mixologists have a huge leg up on me. They mix many more drinks than I ever will. To learn technique I had to make, and most times drink a bunch of cocktails. Also I had to buy a full kit of real bar stuff. Things like shakers, mixing glasses, bitters, ice cube trays, its a long list. But it helped.

Research

Finally, I needed to research the history, which is important for me. I have built a little society of friends who are “cocktail historians” like me, and it really helps. I also have quite a few historical books I draw upon. Knowing what something is, and where it came from is powerful. Especially in knowing how to make it, and how to develop a wholly new cocktail.

So please join me on my journey, with whatever effort you want to put in. I will be doing, and drinking, the research, and trying new things. So we can all enjoy a cocktail together.


Reverse Vesper Martini

SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.

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Make this Cocktail

Ingredients

The following are available from The Whisky Exchange:

Aperitivo Cocchi Americano

Ingredients & Equipment

All of the ingredients, plus this equipment:

Cocktail Elephant Biwa Lake / Large Mixing Glass

Fluted Stem Martini Glass 6.5oz (18.5cl)

Custom

Don't need a new bar spoon or another bottle of your favourite spirit? Choose just the ingredients and equipment you need.

Choose your products

Drinks

Tanqueray No.10 Gin

A super-premium small-batch Tanqueray gin named after the No.10 still in which it is made. A superbly controlled explosion of botanical flavours, with much more citrus character than its Export Strength cousin.

Ketel One Vodka

A meticulously crafted vodka from a Dutch distillery that has remained a family business for 10 generations since 1691. Introduced in the UK in 1999 after massive US success.

Aperitivo Cocchi Americano

Sending the UK cocktail fraternity into a frenzy of anticipation, the famed Cocchi Americano has finally hit these shores. It's acclaimed as the most credible alternative to the long-discontinued Kina Lillet due to its high levels of cinchona, the fiercely bitter bark used to make quinine. This makes Cocchi Americano essential in recreating James Bond's Vesper Martini and the legendary Corpse Reviver #2 from The Savoy Cocktail Book. A big and orangey aperitif, in a similar style to Lillet Blan

Equipment

Mixing Glass w/ Spout (21oz)

A high quality mixing glass, complete with a small jug like spout on the lip to aid in pouring.

Cocktail Elephant Biwa Lake / Large Mixing Glass

A large-sized mixing glass from multi-award-winning German glass producer Eisch. This is the version with diagonal lines.

Julep Strainer

Like a flat miniature colander. Perfect for all your julep-straining needs.

Bonzer Bar Spoon 10"

A solid Bonzer spoon with disc on the end and a spiral shaft - perfect for layering cocktails.

Glasses

Fluted Stem Martini Glass 6.5oz (18.5cl)

A double-sized Martini glass, which holds 19cl of the eponymous cocktail.


Shaken, not stirred!

The Vesper martini is “shaken, not stirred,” just like that famous line from James Bond. Here’s the actual instruction from James Bond for the Vesper: “Three measures of Gordon’s (gin), 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?

Shaking is actually the wrong direction for a Classic Martini, because bartenders typically stir a cocktail that’s all alcohol because the shaker dilutes it too much. But for the Vesper, you want the dilution! You’ll need a cocktail shaker: fill it up with ice, shake until cold, then strain the drink into a cocktail glass. (Here’s the cocktail shaker we use.)


The Cocktail That Lets You Drink Your Vegetables

It's something that no child ever wants to hear. But now that we're all grown up, we suck down those fancy kale-cucumber-celery juices all the time. Know what else we're allowed to do now? Drink great cocktails. So why not enjoy a delicious alcoholic beverage that's pretty much all green juice?

That was my mission for this month's Epicurious House Cocktail. I ended up with The Green Vesper, a drink that's sophisticated, stiff, and, with its emerald-green color, damn pretty to look at. Yes, it's loaded with vegetables. But the road to a vegetal cocktail wasn't easy.

First I tried infusing vodka with kale, but the flavor didn't really permeate the booze all that well (plus it tasted a bit bitter). Next, I tried muddling something green and fresh in the bottom of a cocktail shaker (I tried peas—too fibrous). Finally, I turned to simple syrup, the staple cocktail combination of equal parts sugar and water. It's a terrific carrier for flavors like citrus and spice, so I thought that arugula, with its gentle but peppery flavor, would make a good pair, too. And it worked. In a blender, I blitzed a few cups of arugula with some simple syrup and strained it to create a bright-green syrup that had the perfect balance of sweet and green.

Okay, great, arugula simple syrup. Slightly bitter, slightly sweet—but definitely not something youɽ want to drink on its own. Now, what to do with the stuff?

For inspiration I turned to the Vesper, a classic variation on the Martini that's mostly gin, a little bit vodka, and a dash of Lillet, the citrusy-sweet French aperitif wine. It's often referred to as a Martini for people who don't drink Martinis because, well, it's not pure gin or vodka. Instead, the Martini's boozy heat is balanced out with acid and a touch of sweetness.

My Green Vesper is a lot like a regular Vesper—three parts dry gin, one part good-quality vodka. Instead of Lillet, it's arugula syrup and lemon juice that provide the sweet and acidic notes. But the drink isn't some shy, vegetable-forward cocktail—it still packs the same potent punch that you expect from a classic Martini.

The final curveball? A pinch of salt. Just like in cooking, seasoning your cocktails can make certain flavors sing louder. In this case, just a dash really brings out the leafy flavor of that arugula.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get to work on a non-alcoholic version for all those kids out there.