The sophisticated Vesper Martini is a cocktail worthy of James Bond’s discerning palette.
It was the first drink order of James Bond, noted in the 1953 book Casino Royale (and the 2006 movie).
With one sip, you’ll understand why it’s a favorite of the world’s most famous double agent.
Like 007, it’s slightly sweet with bitter notes and a delicate tart kiss from lemon.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the world’s most famous cocktail: the Vesper Martini.
What’s in a Vesper Martini?
A modern Vesper Martini tastes slightly different from the original recipe from the 1950s.
The original used Kina Lillet, which was discontinued in the mid-1980s. But with a few tweaks, this modern interpretation is pretty close.
Here’s everything you need to recreate this classic cocktail at home.
- Ice – The flavors of the Vesper Martini are best served chilled. Don’t worry, there’s no need for fancy ice cubes since it’s strained through a cocktail shaker.
- Gin – For the most authentic flavors, Gordon’s Gin is a great choice. However, the flavor and strength have changed over the years. If you can’t get your hands on Gordon’s, reach for top-shelf gin with plenty of botanical notes. Tanqueray, Beefeater, and Plymouth Gin are great options.
- Vodka – While the type of gin matters a great deal, you have a little more freedom with vodka. Opt for your favorite brand, and choose one you don’t mind drinking straight up. Since the Vesper Martini is an alcohol-forward drink, try high-quality vodkas like Grey Goose, Tito’s, or Ketel One.
- Lillet Blanc – The original Vesper Martini used Kina Lillet, which no longer exists. A great substitution is Lillet Blanc. Lillet Blanc is sweeter than Kina Lillet with less overall bitterness. Many find Lillet Blanc more palatable.
- Lemon twist (optional). Adding a lemon twist is entirely optional but adds a Bond-esque finishing touch. It provides a pop of color and a bright, citrusy finish. It pairs perfectly with the bitter and sweet notes of this martini.
How to Make a Vesper Martini
Finding the right ingredients is the hard part. Once you gather everything you need, mixing this cocktail is easy peasy.
Check out how quickly this classic cocktail comes together.
1. Add ice. Fill a cocktail shaker to the top with ice.
2. Add the alcohol. Pour the gin, Lillet Blanc, and vodka into the cocktail shaker.
3. Shake it up. Shake it vigorously for 30 seconds or until the cocktail shaker is cold to the touch.
4. Strain. Strain the cocktail into a chilled martini glass.
5. Garnish (optional). Squeeze a lemon twist between your fingers to release its natural oils. Then, place it in the martini glass. Serve and enjoy!
Shaken, Not Stirred
James Bond is very clear about how he likes his martinis! For traditional martinis, you always stir rather than shake because shaking waters down the alcohol.
This is where the Vesper Martini is different. You want a little dilution because it’s incredibly alcohol-forward.
Your bartender instincts may tell you to stir, but James Bond knows his cocktails. For the best flavors, always shake your Vesper Martini.
Lemon Peel Garnish
Don’t just plop a lemon twist into your cocktail and call it a day! They hold so much hidden flavor if you give them a little squeeze.
Lemon peels have precious oils that spread onto the surface of the cocktail. They deliver a fresh, lemony aroma and a hint of citrus flavors.
To express the hidden oils, simply squeeze the lemon peel between your fingers over the glass. It’s a simple step that makes a huge difference.
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