This week we want to keep it short and sweet. The Vesper, or as some call it, the Vesper Lynd, is a drink named after a Bond girl. In fact, it’s the only drink ever invented by a fictional character named after another fictional character. If this is all going over your head, the Vesper is the martini that James Bond orders in Casino Royale, and he later decides to name it after his love interest. Indeed, this is the drink that inspired the graphics for Summit Sips.
3 oz gin
1 oz vodka
.5 oz Lillet Blanc
Combine in a shaker, add ice and shake to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lemon.
For a completely fictional set of circumstances, Ian Flemming created a cocktail that is actually pretty good. As martinis go, this is an extra dry variation. It contains both gin and vodka, and instead of dry vermouth, Flemming specifies Kina Lillet. Unfortunately, Kina, which refers to quina quina, or quinine, is a version of the fortified wine that has not been available since 1986. This would have been a bitter, white wine aperitif with herbal notes and citrus flavors. Lillet Blanc is their newer formulation that is probably more accessible than the earlier Kina, but it lacks the bitterness one should expect for this cocktail. Nevertheless, you have to take what you can get, and for the Vesper, we use Lillet Blanc as it is today (until they decide to resurrect their old formula). Perhaps a better alternative is to use Cocchi Americano, an aperitivo similar to Lillet, but one whose recipe includes the bitter botanicals and is possibly closer to the original Kina Lillet flavor-wise.
You may find as we do that this drink is better if it is stirred, rather than shaken, although 007 wouldn’t have it that way. Stirring retains the crystal clarity of the ingredients and makes for a better presentation, whereas shaking breaks up the ice and introduces air bubbles that mess up the gem quality of the cocktail. But who are we to argue. In the movies, barmen do what they are told, and in this case, that means:
Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, a half measure of Kina Lillet, shake it over ice and then add a thin slice of lemon peel.