James Bond’s Favorite Cocktail: The Vesper Martini

by artfuldiner on February 9, 2024

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Recipe, Wining and Dining



Vesper Martini“A dry martini,” (Bond) said. “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 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 (Felix) 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 think of a good name.”

 Of course, Bond later named the drink after his love interest, Vesper Lynd.

Vesper Martini 2The above passage is from chapter seven of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, penned in 1953. If you’d care to see Daniel Craig’s interpretation of the dialogue from the film of the same name, please click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuRKTvAs_ns.

Contrary to popular belief, while Fleming’s novel popularized the cocktail, it was not his creation. It was actually devised by his good friend Ivar Bryce. Naming the drink, the Vesper, however, was Fleming’s idea, though it was based on someone else’s pun on “vespers,” a religious observance normally held around sunset.

Lillet BlancThe only item in the above recipe that may be unfamiliar is Kina Lillet. Invented in 1887, this was a liqueur made with white wine mixed with fruit liqueurs and flavored with quinine. The Kina in its name is derived from quinine’s main ingredient: the bark of the kina-kina (or cinchona) tree.

In 1986, however, Lillet Blanc, which has a lower quinine content, replaced Kina and has since become exceedingly popular in bars and restaurants. Lillet is actually a family of French aromatized wines; that is, wines fortified with brandy and then infused with herbs, spices, fruit, or other botanicals.  Lillet Blanc is crisp and light, with subtle floral, herbal, and citrus notes. It tastes like a semi-sweet white vermouth with distinctive herbal notes on the finish.

In addition to Kina Lillet being discontinued, in 1992 Gordon’s cut the proof of their gin; so, unfortunately, we cannot duplicate the exact recipe as it was stated. We can, however, with substitutes, come pretty close…

Cocchi AmericanoLillet Blanc is available, but Kina Lillet included quinine. Cocchi Americano can be used as a substitute, as it possesses a more bitter finish than Lillet Blanc…. For a more traditional flavor, 100 proof vodka should be used to bring the alcohol content of the cocktail back to 1953 levels… Because Gordon’s Gin has been cut to 75 proof, possible substitutes are Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, or Broker’s (I prefer Bombay Sapphire), which provide the traditional flavor of 94 proof gin.

The Vesper Martini:


3 ounces gin

1 ounce vodka

½ ounce Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc

ice cubes

lemon for lemon twist


  1. Pour gin, vodka, and Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds, until ice cold.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Rub the lemon twist along the rim of the glass and drop it into the cocktail.

The Vesper Martini is definitely not for the faint of heart, as it contains 4 ounces of liquor, plus a splash of Cocchi Americano. It’s, well… yes, delightfully boozy… But it’s as uniquely alluring as it is powerful.



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