Yes. This is the James Bond drink. Shaken and not stirred. The Vesper is the drink Bond ordered in Casino Royale, and we are going to make it with Bond’s advice, “I do like that one to be large, and very strong, and very cold, and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything.” Bond eventually calls the drink he invents The Vesper, named after the novel’s lead female character, Vesper Lynd.
James Bond in the 1953 novel Casino Royale
“A dry martini,” [Bond] said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”
“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.
“Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,” said Leiter.
Bond laughed. “When I’m…er…concentrating,” he explained, “I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.”
—Ian Fleming, Casino Royale
The Vesper Cocktail Recipe
Makes 1 Drink: One measure is equivalent to 25 ml or 1 Fld oz
- 3 measures of Gordon’s gin (purists go for Tanqueray gin)
- 1 measure of vodka (purists go for 100-proof Stolichnaya vodka)
- — either — 1/2 measure of Kinna Linnet Blanc (authentic)
- — or — 2 drops of angostura orange bitters & 1/2 measure dry white wine
- large thin piece of lemon zest peel (no pith)
Use a Martini cocktail glass, unless you have a deep champagne goblet (styled from the 1950’s) available to you.
This particular cocktail has to be made very cold. In a martini glass add 5 ice cubes and fill it with cold water. Leave the glass to chill. When the glass has chilled empty the martini glass and dry it quickly, and thoroughly, with a napkin. Always hold the glass by the stem. Make sure you have chilled the bottles of spirits before serving.
In a cocktail shaker add in a small handful of cracked ice, the gin, vodka and kina lillet blanc (or wine & bitters). Shake for 30 seconds. Then strain the cocktail from the shaker into the chilled glasses. Add in the lemon zest peel, twist it over the surface of the drink before dropping it in.
Notes on making the authentic drink
1. Kina Lillet Blanc is now available again. In the 1960’s Kina Lillet was no longer made, so for 40 years Bond himself could not order this drink. If it ever stops production again, add two drops of angostura orange bitters with 1/2 measure of dry white wine instead to get the same taste.
2. Most alcoholic drinks made in the 1950’s had a higher alcohol content (abv) some approaching 100% proof, but we are still going to use Gordon’s gin, which is called for, as it uses a secret blend of botanicals – some purists call for another brand at a higher strength, because Gordon’s is now weaker. Note: this is probably why Bond originally asks for it to be shaken with ice, not stirred, to bring the alcoholic content of the drink down slightly, and help him keep his concentration …