Thursday, 10 October 2013

Cocktail Classics - The Vesper, Casino Royale

Picture courtesy of David Lopez
on the Creative Commons Act
 'Dry Martini....... Shaken, not stirred.'

We all know the line, and that big J.B. loves a standard dry Martini. But for those Bond-heads out there, you may notice that this isn't quite the case, especially in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

When gunning against Le Chiffre in the famous, high stakes poker game, Mr. Bond places a drinks order. He asks for a 'Dry Martini,' but on this occasion there is a rather boozy twist. Instead of the standard Vodka and Vermouth mixture, here is what he orders as written by Ian Flemming:

'A dry martini, 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 well until it's ice-cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?'

'Certainly, Monsieur.' 


Now for starters, that is - as Felix Leiter points out - 'One hell of a drinks order,' leading to almost everyone at the table ordering the same. It is also famously named after his love interest in Casino Royale, Vesper. Awkward. But would it be any good? (The drink I mean, not the Bond Girl. Ahem.)

Picture courtesy of pressAtojump on
 the Creative Commons Act
A few years ago, I was having lunch in London's OXO Tower and decided to have a liquid dessert. I looked through the fabulous cocktail list and saw 'Vesper'. I checked the ingredients and it was, of course, the same as James Bond's in Casino Royale.

To be honest I am not the biggest fan of vodka, or cocktails that comprise of nothing but spirits, but I had to get one simply to pretend I was James Bond.

When it came, it looked the part (sadly, I didn't). In a crystal clear Martini glass, its intimidating pure alcohol colour played host to a small dash of yellow courtesy of the slice of lemon rind.

On the nose it is sharp and boozy, with the deep scent of the Vodka, a crispness from the Juniper berries in the Gin and a tang from the lemon. On the palate, it is definitely a sipper. One that you need to linger with and mull over. But the strong flavours come at you in waves, compliment each other brilliantly and it certainly heightens the senses.

All of this forms into one hell of a drink and one that I have had many times since. And yes, I can promise you, every time I've drunk it since, I have been in full tuxedo. Because quite frankly, who doesn't want to be like James Bond? So don't  be an Oddjob and pick up a Vesper.



  1. Enjoyed the read a lot, as I'm a fan of the Vesper myself. I wrote a little about it here:

    1. Thanks Mike! Very kind of you, especially as I have a number of your travel books at home! Great post as well! Matthew