Vesper Dry Martini

Difford's Guide
Discerning Drinkers (110 ratings)

Serve in

Martini glass

Garnish:

Lemon zest twist

How to make:

SHAKE all ingredients with ice and fine strain into chilled glass.

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Review:

Yes, yes, it's a spirituous drink without fruit juices that best shows its crystalline beauty when stirred rather than shaken. However, it's the one Martini that no bartender should lecture a drinker who prefers, like James Bond, their Martinis "shaken not stirred".

Vespers should be shaken! An action that aerates the cocktail, making it colder and more dilute than simply stirring. Surprisingly, shaking (rather than stirring) a Martini also amplifies the aromatised wine/vermouth. Shaking also gives the drink a slightly clouded appearance and can leave tiny shards of ice on the cocktail's surface. The clouded appearance impacts visual appeal, but the ice shards are easily removed using a fine strainer when pouring.

History:

A cocktail with the name "Vesper" appears in William "Cocktail Bill" Boothby's posthumously published 1934 World's Drinks And How To Mix Them (see below), but is very different to the Dry Martini variation that, thanks to James Bond's "shaken, not stirred", is so famous and revered today.

VESPER
Gin .......... ½ jigger
Noyau .......... ¼ jigger
Orange ..........1 spoon
Bitters .......... 2 drops
Shake well with ice into chilled cocktail glass and serve.

William Boothby, 1934

The Vesper Martini was created by the mind of author Ian Fleming, the result of various influences, and made famous by his including it in his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953.

In chapter seven, Bond explains exactly how to make and serve the drink to a Casino bartender. "In a deep champagne goblet. 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 slice of lemon peel."

When made, 007 compliments the bartender, but tells him it would be better made with a grain-based vodka. He also explains his Martini to Felix Leiter, the CIA man, saying, "This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name."

In chapter eight, Bond meets the beautiful agent Vesper Lynd. She explains why her parents named her Vesper, and Bond asks if she'd mind if he called his favourite Martini after her. Like so many of Bond's love interests, Vesper turns out to be a double agent, and the book closes with his words, "The bitch is dead now."

The notoriety of the Vesper Martini is the direct result of its being featured in Casino Royale, and while Bond went on to drink other cocktails, his preference for "shaken not stirred" proved enduring, particularly in the film franchise. But where did Ian Fleming, Bond's author, discover the Vesper? Or was it purely his fictional creation?

The Vesper is Dry Martini with vodka introduced to tame the juniper-forward notes of the gin, and it's no coincidence that vodka was finding its way into more Martinis when Fleming wrote the cocktail into his first Bond novel in 1952. Indeed, the earliest known reference to the Vodka Martini appeared the year before, in Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up book.

What's behind the name 'Vesper'?
One of the most potent cocktails to ever cross a bar, enjoyed by the most famous English spy, is not ironically named after an underpowered Italian scooter.

Fleming wrote the first draft of Casino Royale at his Goldeneye estate overlooking Oracabessa Bay on Jamaica's north coast in early 1952. Named after a wartime operation he was involved in planning, Goldeneye was Fleming's retreat and friends would come and stay while he wintered there. It is said that Fleming used to serve guests a rum-based cocktail called 'Vespers'. Whether this drink was Fleming's creation or a drink he'd discovered on the island or elsewhere is not recorded. However, the Vesper name may originate from his background in Naval Intelligence.

During World War II, Fleming was recruited by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, the Royal Navy's Director of Naval Intelligence, as his personal assistant. While working as a Naval Intelligence Officer, Fleming met Christine Granville, one of the most successful British secret agents to operate behind enemy lines.

Born Krystyna Skarbek in Poland, during her years working for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), she had many codenames and according to James Bond: The Man and His World by Henry Chancellor, one of those names was "Vésperale". There are reports that Fleming had a brief affair with Christine Granville (AKA Vésperale), and it seems more than plausible she was the inspiration for Vesper Lynd and, in turn, the eponymously named Vesper Martini.

Kina Lillet
Fleming's original Vesper specification: "In a deep champagne goblet. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet" calls for a juniper-forward London Dry gin, vodka, and a long lost product called Kina Lillet. The lack of availability of this aperitif wine makes experiencing a true Bond-like Vesper more challenging, but there are alternative kina aromatised-wines to substitute for Kina Lillet.

Nutrition:

191 calories

Alcohol content:

  • 2 standard drinks
  • 30.91% alc./vol. (61.82° proof)
  • 27.8 grams of pure alcohol
Difford's Guide remains free-to-use thanks to the support of the brands in green above. Values stated for alcohol and calorie content, and number of drinks an ingredient makes should be considered approximate.

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Buy direct from
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Makes a minimum of ... cocktails
Just £ -.-- per cocktail*

* This list may not include all required ingredients.
Price per cocktail is an estimate based on the cost of making one cocktail with the available ingredients shown above and does not include any postage charges.
Buy direct from Difford’s Guide
Difford's Easy Jigger
£8.72 £8.72 exc VAT
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