Mint Juleps are the official drink of the Kentucky Derby…
Any real James Bond fan can tell you that Bond’s original drink was the Vesper. It is a drink that Ian Flemming served up for Bond in the 1953 novel Casino Royale.
“A dry martini,” [Bond] 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.”
The Vesper was named after Bond’s dinner companion in the book, and it is memorable. The cocktail is smooth and easy to drink, which is surprising for a drink that is also quite strong. The secret seems to be in the Kina Lillet – which I typically substitute with Cocci Americano, since it is considered to be as close as you can get to the original Kina Lillet. The Cocci Americano is an Italian aperitif wine which tempers the gin and vodka with its herbal, bitter flavor and gives the cocktail a very pleasing smoothness. Adding a generous slice of lemon peel to the drink will enhance the orange notes that you can pick up in the Cocci Americano. Shaken is the only way to go with this cocktail, as far as I’m concerned, and I shake it hard enough to ensure you’ll get some shards of ice on top of the drink when it is served. Bond would have approved.
3 oz. Gin
1 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. Kina Lillet
Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker and fill with ice. Shake very hard and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.