Is there a stronger martini than the Vesper? Well only a Vesper made by Alessandro Palazzi of Dukes – a frozen martini glass filled to the brim with No.3 gin and Potocki vodka straight from the freezer with a dash of their own vermouth and a large orange peel – beautiful, and deadly.
Created by Ian Flaming and ordered by James Bond in the 1953 book Casino Royale, it’s a drink that broke all the cocktail rules of the time by mixing two clear spirits. There’s much debate over how he came up with the Vesper, but one theory I like, and proposed by Palazzi, is that the ratio of British Gin to Iron Curtain Vodka is a comment on the relative powers and strengths of the nations respective secret services.
In Casino Royale, Bond refers to it as a dry martini when he instructs the barman how to make it before he comes to name the drink after his lover and treacherous accomplice, Vesper Lynd. Felix Leiter joins him in having one (this is the first time they introduce themselves to one another) and suggests that Bond names it the ‘Molotov cocktail’, given its strength and that earlier two men in straw hats had tried to blow Bond up. Over the course of the series, the makeup of Bond’s martinis changes from this to gin martinis to the ever-famous vodka martinis. The list of ingredients below and their measures are just as Bond relays to the barman. Having tasted the drink, he tells the barman that, while it is excellent, it would be even better if he had used vodka made from grain rather than a potato.
Bonds Ingredients –
3 measures Gordon’s Gin
1 measure vodka
½ measure Kina Lillet
lemon peel – a long thin piece
Sadly Kina Lillet is no longer available (unless you can track down a vintage bottle at corresponding cost), but Lillet Blanc is a suitable alternative for the same manufacturers. Additionally don’t use Gordon’s Gin for a martini, unless it’s export strength, it just isn’t a style of gin particularly well suited to martini’s, instead try something like Tanqueray 10, Plymouth or more up market try Monkey 47, Elephant Gin or No.3 Gin. Bond also instructs that the drink be shaken over ice until ice cold and then pour into a deep champagne goblet, which is only worth doing if you’re looking to water the drink down.
Instead try this –
75ml Gin (No.3 is great)
Dash of Lillet Blanc
Large piece of Lemon Peel (or try orange peel as an nice alternative)
If you keep your gin and vodka in the freezer (if you don’t, you should start to, there is nothing more perfect than the sight of slow motion pouring of viscous gin from a frost covered bottle*) pour them straight into a martin glass (preferably also from the freezer). Then take the lemon peel and twist it over the glass; this will release the oils in the skin in a fine vapour onto the surface of the martini. Then add the lemon peel to the martini and serve.
Stir the ingredients slowly over ice in a cocktail shaker until cold. Then pour into the martini glass, twist the lemon peel over it and add it to the glass. Serve.
*If you don’t have room to keep bottle in the freezer on a long term basis, worry not, you need only put them in 48hrs before use to achieve the right chilled effect and consistency, anything less than this isn’t worth it. If it’s a low proof gin you may get fine shards of ice forming in the gin, do not be concerned.