How To Make The Vesper Martini From Casino Royale

If you’re looking for a cocktail that’s equal parts sophisticated and secretive, we might have the perfect suggestion for you. Be warned though, consisting of neat liquor only, James Bond’s Vesper Martini packs a serious punch. No wonder 007 limited himself to just one when ‘concentrating’!

Now, we’ve had to take a little bit of artistic license with the recipe itself. While all the ingredients are real, the author of the original Bond tales, Ian Fleming, did invent this intoxicating little number himself back in 1953. Some of the components of the Vesper Martini no longer actually exist!

Don’t worry though, we’ve come up with a few tweaks for the modern drinker. For a full Casino Royale experience sip your martini and try the latest pokies from Bitstarz. It’s much safer than trying to outfox terrorist financiers at the poker table!

A Bit of Background to the Vesper Martini

Fleming introduced the Vesper Martini to the world in Casino Royale. In the scene in question, he meets a CIA contact called Felix Leiter. He describes the recipe below in precise detail, prompting Leiter to ask about this unusual blend.

Bond tells Leiter that he invented the drink but is still looking for a name. Once he settles on one, he says he’s going to patent it. Later in the same novel, the ever-so-seductive Vesper Lynd appears, who the drink is eventually named after. And, thus, a classic cocktail was born! 

Vesper Martini Recipe

Equipment:

  • Cocktail shaker.
  • Martini glass (classic V-shaped cocktail glass with thin stem).
  • Mesh strainer.

Ingredients for a Single Serving:

This first list of ingredients contains those described by Fleming in the Casino Royale book itself. As mentioned, you won’t be able to find some of them. However, we are trying to recreate this classic beverage. Therefore, it’s important to know exactly what we’re aiming for before we started messing around with substitutions!

To make Fleming’s Vesper Martini as he describes it, you would have needed:

  • Three ounces of gin – probably Gordon’s.
  • One ounce of vodka.
  • Half an ounce of Kina Lillet – the tricky bit!
  • Lemon for garnish.
  • Cubed ice.

Our younger readers have probably never heard of Kina Linnet. It’s a discontinued aromatic wine from France. Thanks to its quinine content, it was quite a bitter tasting drink. For reference, quinine is what gives tonic water its characteristic taste.

Unfortunately, the manufacturer no longer makes it. This is where we have to get creative!

The Kina Lillet could be replaced by Lillet Blanc. This too contained quinine and would have made the perfect substitution until the 1980s. However, the company no longer uses quinine, resulting in a more delicate flavour that we honestly couldn’t tell you if Bond would have been impressed by!

If this softer option doesn’t do it for you, you can substitute the Kina Lillet for half ounce of Cocchi Americano. This will add a little bitterness to your cocktail. Similarly, you could stick with Bond’s brand and use Lillet Blanc. A few dashes of aromatic bitters will make it that little bit sharper and more like the original.

While the most obvious omission from your Vesper Martini is going to be the Kina Lillet, it’s worth noting that the Gordon’s available today isn’t quite the same as that made in the 1950s either. This is slightly more trivial but if you’re aiming for authenticity, choose a more peppery gin over a floral one. You can use whatever brand of vodka you prefer.

Instructions:

Knocking up a Vesper Martini shouldn’t take you more than around three minutes. You don’t need a degree in mixology either!

  • Combine gin, vodka, and your Kina Lillet substitute in your cocktail shaker.
  • Add a generous handful of cubed ice.
  • Shake well for around 10-15 seconds.
  • Rub the lemon zest around the rim of the glass.
  • Drop the rest of the zest into the glass before pouring.
  • Rest the mesh strainer over your glass.
  • Pour the contents of the shaker through the strainer. The double straining method should ensure a smooth cocktail with no shards of ice.

Shaken or Stirred?

Bond’s trademark insistence on his martinis being ‘shaken not stirred’ might raise the eyebrows of cocktail aficionados. Typically, a martini is stirred, not shaken.

Indeed, there is a bit of good old-fashioned science behind the preference for stirring too. Stirring mixes the different liquids sufficiently while not agitating the ice too much. Since the ice isn’t getting jumbled around in a cocktail shaker, it’s less prone to melting and diluting the drink.

Yet, throughout Bond’s adventures, the international man of mystery really is quite adamant about the mixing technique used. The now-iconic line first appeared in the 1956 novel Diamonds are Forever.

However, Bond’s first literary use of the famous ‘shaken not stirred’ request comes later in Dr. No. In Bond movies, it’s not used by the secret agent until the 1964 classic Goldfinger.

Fleming never told us the exact reason but perhaps we can infer one from the first time Bond orders his signature drink. In Casino Royale, Bond tells his CIA contact Felix Leiter that this potent cocktail is a favourite when he’s concentrating. While he admits to liking it ‘large’ and ‘very strong’, perhaps the extra dilution from shaking takes the edge off this boozy number, allowing 007 to stay focused.

Whatever the nuances, this is a great little drink for those fond of a strong sharp drink and of course Bond fans. Happy mixing!