Vesper

Updated: 29 May 2012 | By:

Classic Cocktail 6

A lot of people haven’t heard of this drink but THIS is the drink of Ian Fleming’s secret agent. Read on as we explore that this cocktail is pretty iconic in itself as it has done much more than just promote James Bond.

He looked carefully at the barman.

“A dry martini,' he said. 'One. In a deep champagne goblet.”
“Oui, monsieur.”
“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?”
“Certainly monsieur.” The barman seemed pleased with the idea.


                                                                                        -    IAN FLEMING, Casino Royale (1953)

The name of the cocktail was borrowed from the female agent Bond was sharing a carafe of it with –Vesper.
   
It is with the Vesper and James Bond that has given rise to vodka in the United States until it’s become the most popular spirit in the nation within two decades. The cocktail, which is a combination of vodka and gin with Lillet (not a vermouth but an aperitif made with Bordeaux wines), was invented by Gilberto Preti at the Duke’s Hotel in London, which was Fleming’s neighbourhood bar1.
   
After the James Bond books started being made into movies, most featured Agent 007 ordering a vodka martini. John Martin, the promotions genius behind Smirnoff, then made a product placement proposal to feature the brand in the Bond films which basically introduced vodka to the Americans. However, in agreement, the catch phrase had to be shortened to “Vodka, shaken not stirred” in order to accommodate Smirnoff.
   
If you want to try for yourself how this original Bond cocktail tastes, just prepare according to the extract above. The thing is, you may find it difficult to get your hands on Lillet which doesn’t really have a substitute.

1.    Degroff, Dale (2008). The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks
 

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