Retro Cocktail for August: The Vesper Martini
"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." —James Bond, Casino Royale (the book)
The Retro Cocktail for July is "The Vesper Martini", the drink made famous in Ian Fleming's Casino Royale, invented by James Bond himself for the love of his life. The following are relevant excerpts (amended) from my memoir, TALES OF INSOMNIA DESPAIR & THE PERFECT COCKTAIL...
Kina Lillet no longer exists. When James Bond invents his drink in Casino Royale, he states “three measures of Gordon’s gin, one measure of vodka, a half measure of Kina Lillet.” But the rub is that they stopped making Kina Lillet in the mid 1980s, and Lillet Blanc, while delicious in its own right, is not the same thing.
The first sip of The Vesper, you know immediately that this is a big-strong-muscle-bound-kick-sand-in-the-face kind of drink, but after the second sip you realize that it’s assertively delicious. It’s the Kina Lillet, or rather, its 21st Century equivalent, Aperitivo Cocchi Americano, with its slap in the face to Lillet Blanc’s caress; cinnamon and citrus, with that lingering quinine aftertaste. The Vesper I hold in my hand has the three measures of Gordon’s, a measure of Reyka vodka (my current favorite, from Iceland), and three-fourths measure of Cocchi Americano (instead of the half measure of the original). And as you sip it, you sense the subtle scent of lemon peel, the bite of gin and quinine. This is not one of those simple syrup-infused Sweet-tinis that’s on every cocktail menu these days. The Vesper is a serious drink for serious drinkers.
THE VESPER 3 parts Gordon’s Gin 1 part Reyka Vodka ¾ part Aperitivo Cocchi Americano Shake over ice (shaken, not stirred). Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a very long twist of lemon for the lost love you lament.