The Vesper martini was created by author Ian Fleming as the signature drink of his super-spy, James Bond. It first appeared in Casino Royale in 1953, when Bond says: ‘Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?‘.
The boozy combo of gin and vodka is softened somewhat by Kina Lillet, a French aperitif made with quinine liqueur. It gained popularity in the 1920s, due to its gorgeous advertising images and inclusion in many cocktails.
Unfortunately, the original 1887 recipe was reformulated in 1986 when the quinine was removed to create a lighter drink, leaving fans of the Vesper bereft. However, Cocchi Americano is considered a reasonable alternative.
Shaking his martini would certainly have made Bond’s drink colder, quicker, but it would have been cloudy, as you can see in the below image. My preference is for stirred. As a relative novice, I find it easier to judge whether I have the correct dilution than I do when shaking a drink.
For my Vesper martini, I’m using all Australian ingredients. Archie Rose Gin and Vodka from Sydney and the sublime La Tonique Quinquina, the latest addition to the Maidenii range of vermouth. La Tonique is made with Viognier grapes, botanicals and citrus and like Kina Lillet, has the addition of cinchona bark to give it a bitter edge.
Ingredients for a Vesper Martini
10ml La Tonique or Cocchi Americano
Stir all ingredients over ice for 40-5o seconds. Double strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a thin slice of lemon peel.