The Unbonded Vesper Martini. Sorry, James.
We’re all familiar with how much James Bond loved his Martinis. His drink of preference is usually a vodka martini that is “shaken, not stirred,” and we find him ordering them throughout the Ian Fleming novels and their movie adaptations. The only exception is in the book and film, Casino Royale, where he asks for a Vesper Martini, specifically telling the bartender that he wants it with gin, vodka, Kina Lillet, and a large, thin lemon peel. The modern version of the drink uses Lillet Blanc instead of the Kina Lillet, which contained quinine and is no longer available. Since the quinine would have added bitterness to the cocktail, some mixologists believe that Cocchi Americano would be truer to the originally intended taste, and is therefore a better substitute. Cocchi Americano is an Italian apertif wine that contains something called cinchona bark, which is a source of quinine. I prefer to use the Lillet Blanc (a French apertif wine that is sweeter and very aromatic) simply because it’s one of my favorites. I also added 2 dashes of Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters, expressed a grapefruit peel over the drink before serving it, and substituted a long grapefruit strip for the lemon. I love serving this cocktail with oysters on Christmas Eve. One last note on the name: a Vesper is an evening prayer usually said at sunset, leading to the conclusion that this is the hour that James Bond would have started drinking martinis. Sounds very logical to me!
The Unbonded Vesper Martini
1 1/2 oz Plymouth gin
3/4 oz Crop vodka
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc*
2 dashes Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters
1 grapefruit peel to express over the drink
1 long thin grapefruit strip for garnishing
Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass and fill 2/3 full with regular ice. Stir for about 20 seconds with a long handled bar spoon. Strain into a chilled martini glass using a Julep strainer. Express the grapefruit peel by holding it over the drink and squeezing it with the white side facing you. Garnish with the long grapefruit strip. Enjoy!
*Should be relatively easy to find in most liquor stores.
Feel free to make your own substitutions here for the gin and the vodka. Think about Monday’s post when making your gin choice. Switch back to the lemon if you think you’ll like it better. And definitely give the Cocchi Americano (also easy to find) a try!The glass that I use at home is made by Bormioli Rocco. It’s called the Ypsilon Martini Cordial Glass. I prefer it because its small (only 4 and a 1/4 oz). Martinis are meant to be served ice cold, but because so many restaurants and bars use very large stemware there is simply no way to drink them quickly enough. Inevitably they become too warm and the flavor of the drink gets compromised. Bottom line: go for a smaller glass at home!
Be sure to stop back tomorrow for the Thursday Barlogue. I’ll be featuring Chubby’s 1 1/2 Hearth in Gloucester City, NJ!