James Bond first ordered his trademark drink -which he named the Vesper Martini- when he met CIA agent Felix Leiter in an early chapter in Ian Fleming’s debut Bond novel Casino Royale, published in 1953:
‘A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet.’
‘Just a moment. 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?’
‘Certainly, monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
‘Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,’ said Leiter.
Bond laughed. ‘When I’m . . . er . . . concentrating,’ he explained, ‘I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.’
Fleming continues with Bond telling the barman, after taking a long sip, “Excellent … but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better.” In the next chapter, Bond names it the Vesper at the time of his first introduction to the beautiful -and original – bond girl Vesper Lynd.
A few years later, in the Dr No novel, Bond orders “a medium Vodka dry Martini – with a slice of lemon peel. Shaken and not stirred please. I would prefer Russian or Polish vodka.”
Since Gordon’s Gin has been reformulated since 1953 (was 94 proof, now typically sold as 75 proof), and Kina Lillet is no longer available in its 1950’s formula, we can recreate the original:
3 parts Beefeater London Dry Gin, 94-proof [Gordons gin if you can find 94-proof]
1 part Stolichnaya Vodka, 100-proof [a Russian vodka made from wheat/rye, not potatoes]
1/2 part Kina Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano [an Italian apertif wine used now as a substitute in classic drinks for Kina Lillet]
Shake well on ice, strain into a large Champagne glass
add a Large thin slice of lemon peel
Bond orders his drinks “big”, meaning 3 oz gin, 1 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Kina Lillet. Make this while enjoying an evening at home. Many bars will not sell such a strong drink.
Why Shaken and not Stirred?
-Shaking a cocktail drink 10 – 15 seconds in ice imparts much more energy than stirring, and thus more dilution. You’ll want this extra dilution when using these high-proof gins and vodkas.
Note: Kina Lillet has a cool history – made with quinone to protect one from malaria.