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Shaken, not stirred.

Jun 13th 2013



When Ian Fleming published, “Casino Royale” in 1953, he had no idea what he had started. Not only did he create what became the enormous James Bond franchise we know today, but inadvertently created a rather tremendous cocktail, The Vesper. It was written like so:

"A dry martini," he said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."
Then Bond specifies his order to the waiter:
"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?"
When continuing his conversation with Felix Leiter, his CIA counterpart, Bond says,
"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."

Now THAT is quintessential Bond.

It is said that Fleming himself wrote much of his womanizing and heavy imbibing into the Bond character, so one might presume that Fleming himself created this monster of a booze-on-booze-on-aperitif-wine cocktail to suit his own over-the-top requirements in a cocktail. But for those who want to taste this concoction and not fall over, all is certainly not lost.

In the process of trying to share this drink with people, I found that by simply tweaking the proportions, one can still 1.) taste all three components individually within the drink, 2.) not be overwhelmed by 4.5 ounces of alcohol pre-dilution and 2.) enjoy the cocktail as a whole. In addition, in many states, it is illegal to pour more than 3 ounces of alcohol into a drink, so this because the standard Vesper variation:

1.5 ounces gin (recommended: Tanqueray 10, CapRock, Beefeater24)
1 ounce vodka (recommended: Chopin, Square One Organic, Purity)
0.5 ounce Lillet Blanc
Add ice, stir until very cold, strain into a chilled coupe glass. After squeezing the oils from a lemon peel onto the surface of the cocktail, garnish the drink with said peel by lightly dropping it into the glass.

Now hold on, cocktail historians, yes, we know that I didn't specify a high-proof vodka (which, if you continue on in the book, is most *likely* what was available for the grain-based vodka Bond specifies) and that Kina Lillet is no longer in existence... but hey, we're trying to enjoy a cocktail here and learn and have fun, all at the same time, so let's discuss it, by all means, but how about we dive into this drink and THEN dissect it.

Cheers, everyone!