The drink was invented and named by fictional secret agent James Bond in the 1953 novel Casino Royale:
“A dry martini,” [Bond] 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.
“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
Later, Bond named the drink after his lady love Vesper Lynd. Maybe drinking a few of these numbed the pain of his broken heart; after all, it’s certainly a strong cocktail that will wash away memories and woes. Betrayal and tragedy aside, James Bond knows how to mix a damn fine drink. Would you expect anything less?
James Bond’s Vesper
3 measure Martin Miller’s Gin
1 measure Russian vodka
0.5 measure Cocchi Americano
lemon rind slice
Pour liquid ingredients over ice in cocktail shaker. Stir. I know what you’re thinking — but he said, “Shaken, not stirred.” To us, stirring the cocktail with ice produces a colder, silkier Vesper. The whole idea is to serve the cocktail cold, cold, cold. If you want to shake it like the man himself, by all means do so. Then strain into a martini glass and liberally garnish with lemon peel. Pull out a deck of cards, put on a nice suit, and let yourself be James Bond until not a drop remains in the glass.
Which Gin or Vodka should be used to make a classic Vesper? Like the double-agent Vesper, the vodka should be Russian. The cocktail is named after her so it seems wrong to choose anything but Russian vodka, but we cheated and used Sobieski, a Polish rye vodka. As for the gin, Martin Miller’s was our choice because it’s yummy and it’s English . . . just like Mr. Bond. Only a gin produced in England can represent a cocktail created by a secret operative for Her Majesty, so if you don’t choose Martin Miller’s at least select another English gin.
To stay true to how the cocktail would have tasted to Mr. Bond way back in the 1950s, select spirits up around 100 proof. Our 80 proof spirits are weak in comparison to what James was pouring for himself, but you can stick with the 80 proof spirits if the sound of mixing 100 proof spirits together is as intimidating as hand-to-hand combat with 007. Plymouth Navy Strength Gin is a good choice if you’re toasting the the double 0.
Drink to good health? Not this time. Drink to the only woman James Bond ever loved — Vesper Lynd. Drink to love and fighting evil.
Warning: Sexual prowess and ass-kicking capabilities are not included in the mixing of this drink.