Vesper – Ian Fleming

“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, Chapter 7, “Rouge et Noir’

½ oz Vodka

2 oz Gin

¼ oz Kina Lillet

Shake over ice and strain into a glass with a lemon zest on top

Tonight was Secret cinema night, and I was Peter Nesbo, detective, soon to be Bladerunner.

These events are my highlights of any given year, and this was the 5th time I’ve donned costume, assumed an identity and headed in to deepest darkest Canning Town to an obscure warehouse for the ultimate in London based escapism. I always geek out a little at these, I love to immerse myself completely in character and run around on the quests I’m given. Having been several times before a group of us opted to the VIP tickets, which wonderfully included access to a secret bar where we could retire to meet Deckard, or grab a drink or 3. I don’t remember what the drink on the list was called, but when running through the ingredients I know a vesper when I see one.

The drink itself was supposedly invented by the bartender at Browns off Piccadilly, this is one of Ian Flemings favourite haunts and I believe he was a guest of the hotel when he penned Casino Royale. The story goes that Ian wasn’t a big gin fan and liked his martini’s toned down with a little vodka to mellow out the flavours, it also then becomes a charming blend of Warsaw Pact and NATO based ingredients which obviously Bond would’ve been familiar with. Today Browns is de-rigueur for any martini enthusiast, and they serve a wicked martini, which is well in line with Ms. Parkers famous quote, have three at your extreme peril.

I like a Martini, and by extension a Vesper, and this was no different, save the star anise used as garnish perhaps. It worked brilliantly as a 7th drink (we’d stopped off on the way for an assortment of scary looking Canning Town cocktails) and meant I was fumbling for words a little by the time we had to talk to Hassan, the exotic animal importer. Deckard would not have been impressed, let alone Bond.