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The Vesper martini: How to make James Bond’s drink

Bartender pouring drink through strainer
Rachel Claire / Pexels

Can’t decide between a vodka or gin martini? James Bond’s Vesper martini gives you the best of both. 

A bold drink that oozes sophistication, the Vesper first appeared in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale in 1953. Not only does it break the traditional martini rules by combining gin and vodka, but it also follows the shaken, not stirred methodology for preparation. 

Known for his love of martinis, James Bond quickly became synonymous with this cocktail, which was made even more popular by Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond in the 2006 film Casino Royale.

How to make the Vesper martini

Martini glass with shadow
Damir / Pexels

While the classic martini template calls for three ounces of base spirit and half an ounce of vermouth, the vesper martini has its own unique twist. 

The original Vesper martini recipe calls for three parts gin to one part vodka, half an ounce of Kina Lillet, and a lemon twist. However, it’s important to note that Kina Lillet ceased production in 1986. 

But don’t worry, I spoke with multiple bartenders on the Las Vegas Strip, and they all told me the same thing–Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano are commonly used substitutions.

Ingredients 

  • 3 parts gin
  • 1 part vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Lillet blanc or Cocchi Americano*
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Method

  1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with ice. This will ensure your drink is properly chilled.
  2. Add the gin, vodka, and Lillet blanc or Cocchi Americano to the shaker tin.
  3. Shake the mixture vigorusly for about 30 seconds. This will allow the flavors to meld together while providing aeration and dilution.
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish your vesper martini with a lemon twist. Simply twist a strip of lemon peel over the glass to release its oils, then drop it in the drink.

There you have it – the perfect vesper martini, just like James Bond would order. But here’s where the fun begins. The vesper martini can be tailored to suit a variety of tastes. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own perfect balance. Cocchi Americano has a sweeter flavor profile and will yield a cocktail with more floral notes than Lillet Blanc. Want more citrus notes than just a lemon peel? Add a couple of dashes of orange bitters.

If you prefer a milder gin flavor, you can adjust the ratio of gin to vodka. Likewise, if you’re more of a gin lover, you can increase the gin portion. Going with a London dry style of gin like Tanqueray will allow the juniper notes to stand up to the other ingredients. Choosing a new style of gin like Nolets or Hendricks will give you a milder cocktail with more floral notes.

Brittney Bertagna, RN
Brittney is a graduate of California State University, Chico, where she completed a Bachelor's degree in Business. Her…
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