Get into a Vesper

Most people in this world think it proper to take Gin when you are having a Martini. I am one of them.

There are a few misguided souls who seems to think that chilled vodka, placed within a reasonable vicinity of an unopened vermouth bottle also constitutes a Martini. They are, undoubtedly, wrong.

However, there is one drink that bridges the sides in this sometimes ugly argument. It was created by a hero of men, a seducer of women, a killer true and orphaned servant of her Royal Majesty. I’m talking of course, of James Bond.

There’s always something special about a drink inspired by a lady, and the Vesper is certainly one of them. Plenty has been written about the history of the drink, the fact it is mentioned in the first Bond novel to be published, the fact the original recipe called for Kina Lillet, a now extinct product featuring the bitter quinona bark, famously used to flavour tonic water throughout the Empire.

One thing that you don’t read everywhere is why Bond actually ordered it. Fleming was foreshadowing the doubt in Bond’s mind over the loyalty of Vesper Lynd. While those of you who have only seen the movie won’t know it, Bond was actually out there fighting СМЕРШ. A Soviet controlled spy ring, tasked with the spread of communism and the elimination of western spies. By calling a mostly English Gin drink tainted with a lick of Russian vodka a Vesper, it is the subtle plant of doubt that will unfold in the next few chapters of the book. Vesper is a double agent.

The Vesper.

60mls Gordons Gin, 20mls Stolichnaya V0dka, 10 mls Lillet Blanc. Combine all ingredients over ice and shake until it is very cold. Strain up and inhale… Looks and tastes mighty tasty. Garnished always with a thick peel of lemon.

At home, Cocktail

The Drinking Bond

James-Bond-Logo-Poster-C10053467(1)James Bond has always fascinated me. From going to the Christmas Holiday movie premieres to discovering the novels on a dusty shelf in a remote New Zealand batch, an exciting lifestyle punctuated with great food, plentiful drinks, fast cars and intriguing women inspired me enough to seek out the the rest of the stories. My girlfriend recently bought me the Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories, the plot lines of which appear in many of the movies. Noticing a much wider breadth of drinking than I had recognised before, it got me wondering – What does James Bond Drink?

Bourbon whiskey
Scotch whisky
Vodka martini
Brandy or Cognac
Gin or undetermined martini
Red wine
Straight vodka
White wine
Vodka and tonic
Gin and tonic
Old Fashioned
Undetermined whiskey
Vesper martini
Canadian whiskey
Korn Schnapps
Black Velvet
Irish Coffee
Japanese whisky
Mint Julep
Pink gin
Rum Collins
Sparkling wine

66 Champagnes, mostly bottles and brand preferences of Bollinger, Tattinger, Dom Perignon and Veuve Cliqout, an average of 7 years in the bottle. 57 Bourbon whiskeys, normally straight up but with ice on occassion, brand preferences of Jack Daniels (Actually a Tennessee Whiskey) & Old Grandad. 42 Scotch Whiskies, Haig & Haig and Black & White. 41 vodka martinis, Shaken not stirred, always with a peel, Smirnoff, Stolichnaya and Finlandia. 37 Sakes, All consumed in You Only Live Twice, Kampai! 24 Brandies or Cognacs, Calvados once, French the rest of the time. 21 Gin martinis, also shaken, Beefeater or Gordons. 21 Red Wines, Mouton Rothschild more than any other. 13 Beers, Lowenbrau, Red Stripe, Miller High Life. 11 straight vodkas, Smirnoff, Stoli, Wolfscmidt and Siamese, occassionally with a pinch of black pepper. 10 vesper martinis, three measures of Gordon’s, one of Smirnoff, one of Kina Lillet, Shaken until it’s very cold and served in a deep wine goblet. 9 white wines, with a preference for Italians. 8 vodka tonics & 7 Gin and tonics. 6 Americanos, always made with Perrier, the cheapest way to improve a poor drink. 6 raki, all consumed in Asia minor. 4 Old Fashioned’s, always made with Bourbon. 4 whisk(e)y’s, of indeterminate origin.  3 Enzian, mad mountain flower schnapps from Austria, similar to Genepey in the French Alps. 3 ouzos, only in Greece. 3 Rums, only in the Carribean. 3 Stingers, the least Bond of all, brandy and creme de menthe. 2 Canadian Whiskeys. 2 Korn Schnapps. 1 Black Velvet, Pure Irish Bond, Guinness and Champagne. 1 Glüwein, in the mountains, of course. 1 each of Irish Coffee, Japanese whisky, Marsala, Mint Julep, Mojito, Negroni, Pink gin, Sazerac, Port, Rum Collins, Sherry, Slivovic, Sparkling wine, Steinhäger and 20 drinks that are not identified in any way.

A couple of other little snippets.

  • Daniel Craig is indeed the best Bond ever, consuming 12 drinks in Casino Royale and 8 in Quantum of Solace. The average consumption is 5.
  • Books are better than movies, Bond consumes 317 drinks in print, compared to 122 on screen.

The James Bond Bar.

If all this has got you wanting to live the James Bond lifestyle, or even maybe watch the back catalogue matching the man one for one, here’s what you’ll need to pull it off.

Apéritifs: Campari, Kina Lillet♣. Beer: Franziskaner, Guinness Stout, Löwenbräu, Miller High Life and Red Stripe. Bourbon: I.W. Harper, Jim Beam, Old Grand-Dad, Walker’s Deluxe. Brandy and Cognac: Calvados, Hennessy. Canadian Whisky: Canadian Club. Gin: Beefeater, Gordon’s, House of Lords, Steinhäger. Japanese Whisky: Suntory. Scotch Whisky: Black & White, Haig and Haig (Pinch or Dimple). Tennessee Whiskey: Jack Daniel’s. Vermouth: Cinzano, Martini & Rossi. Vodka: Absolut, Finlandia, Smirnoff (Red, Blue and Black Labels), Stolichnaya, Wolfschmidt. Other: Enzian, korn schnapps, kummel, ouzo, raki, sake (but only served in large tumblers), sherry, slivovic, white creme de menthe. Champagnes: Bollinger, Dom Perignon, Krug, Pommery, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot. Wines: Name brands include Calvet, Kavaklidere, Château Angélus and Mouton Rothschild. Besides red wines in general, styles enjoyed by Bond include Chianti, Fondant, Liebfraumilch, Mâcon, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Pouilly-Fuissé, Riquewihr, Rosé d’Anjou, Theotaki Aspro, and White Bordeaux. Soda Water: Perrier. Other ingredients: Angostura bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters. Garnishes: Lemon peel, lime.

♣ Kina Lillet is no longer produced, you could try and buy a bottle at auction, but storage of the product means it’s likely to be off. Your best bet is to use Lillet Blanc, and if you’re willing to go the whole hog, find some bark from a Chincona tree. The tree only grows in Peru.

You can find much of this information over at make mine a 007. I’ve just updated the Quantum of Solace stats and added a little of me to the mix.

Spirit, Sydney

Lillet Blanc


Perhaps no other alcohol has a bigger profile and such a low instance of product trial. It is a wonderful little gem that started life in Podensac, just south of Borbeaux in France.

Lillet is an aperitif made from wine blended with citrus liqueurs, primarily orange. It has a wonderfully full, fruity and herbal taste and is distinct from Italian vermouth by its lack of spicy notes.

Enjoyed by the French over ice with a slice of orange, Lillet makes an essential ingredient in a Corpse Reviver #2, the Kir Lillet and of course, the Vesper martini ordered by Ian Fleming’s James Bond in his 1953 novel, Casino Royale*.

Lillet can be used in place of almost any recipe that calls for Martini Bianco, for a softer, more subtle drink.

You can buy it here in Sydney at Elizabeth Bay Cellars, where you’ll find it masterfully chilled in the ice box, and at Ultimo Cellars.

* Bond actually calls for a martini made with Gordons Gin, Smirnoff Vodka and Kina Lillet, a precursor to todays version that would have been both more bitter and sweet, the bitterness coming from the addition of the quinine to the beverage and excess sugar being used to hide impurities in the manufacturing process.

Bookmark and Share