Vesper Martini

The classy Vesper martini is cool, crisp and herbal: an intriguing spin that’s shaken, not stirred! Invented by James Bond, it’s become a true classic.

Vesper martini

Here’s a cocktail invented by a fictional character that went on to become a classic. Meet the Vesper martini! Yes, James Bond created this drink in the 1953 book Casino Royale, and it lives on today. To us it’s an improvement on the classic martini, so we’re glad it’s stuck around! The magic ingredient is Lillet blanc, a lightly sweet, vaguely floral fortified wine that brings life and personality into this drink. Here’s more about it and why you should try a Bond martini…stat.

What’s in a Vesper martini?

The idea that a fictional character can invent a drink has us tickled! But of course, the real props go to the James Bond series author, Ian Fleming. In Casino Royale, James Bond approaches the bar and asks for a very specific type of martini. In the next chapter, he names it “the Vesper” after his love interest, Vesper Lynd. (Vesper means “evening” in Latin, and she was born on a stormy evening. Classic, right?) The drink quantities and ingredients in the book were so specific, you can easily recreate the Vesper at home. The ingredients in a Vesper martini are:

  • Gin
  • Vodka
  • Lillet Blanc

The Vesper martini went on to be included on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, meaning it’s part of the official bartender drinks list. Pretty impressive, James Bond!

Vesper martini

Shaken, not stirred!

The Vesper martini is “shaken, not stirred,” just like that famous line from James Bond. Here’s the actual instruction from James Bond for the Vesper: “Three measures of Gordon’s (gin), 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?

Shaking is actually the wrong direction for a Classic Martini, because bartenders typically stir a cocktail that’s all alcohol because the shaker dilutes it too much. But for the Vesper, you want the dilution! You’ll need a cocktail shaker: fill it up with ice, shake until cold, then strain the drink into a cocktail glass. (Here’s the cocktail shaker we use.)

All about Lillet

Lillet Blanc is our new favorite addition to our liquor cabinet. I can’t believe we’ve have gone this long without it! Lillet is a French aperitif: a fortified wine that’s flavored with herbs and citrus. There are are several types of Lillet made of different wines: Lillet Blanc, Lillet Rosé and Lillet Rouge. The flavor of Lillet Blanc is light, with subtle floral and herbal notes. It’s similar to a dry white vermouth, with a more intriguing herbal flavor.

Use Lillet Blanc in a Vesper martini. But honestly, it’s at its very best as a Lillet Spritz! It’s one of the most refreshing summer drinks you could imagine.

Lillet blanc

Express that lemon peel!

Last up: the garnish! As James Bond instructed, you must add a lemon peel. This not only adds a visual flair, but a bartender will typically express the citrus onto the drink. What does that mean? Here’s how to “express” citrus onto a cocktail:

  • First, squeeze the lemon peel over the drink to release the oils.
  • Then gently run the peel around the edge of the glass. This gives the first sip a refreshing lemon perfume!
How to make a Vesper martini

Martini variations

Do you love a good martini? (We assume so, if you ended up here.) The Vesper martini is one of our favorites: but there are many different options, from classic and dry to fruity and tart. Here are all our martini recipes:

  • Classic Martini Here’s how to make the very best classic dry martini.
  • Dirty Martini Serve it “dirty” with olive juice, and it rounds out the sip with a briny tang.
  • Gibson Cocktail The same as a martini…except for the garnish!
  • French Martini Perfectly balanced with vodka, pineapple juice, and raspberry liqueur.
  • Mexican Martini Full of zingy flavor, with lime, tequila and an olive garnish.
  • Cucumber Martini This cool spin on the classic is botanical and fresh.
  • Pomegranate Martini This jewel-toned drink is sweet tart and light: the perfect fruity variation.
  • Lemon Drop Martini This ultra tangy martini is made with vodka, Cointreau and lemon.

When to serve a Vesper martini

This Vesper martini is sophisticated and refreshing. Serve it as a:

  • Summer drink
  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Vesper martini

Classic Vesper Martini


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

The classy Vesper martini is cool, crisp and herbal: an intriguing spin that’s shaken, not stirred! Invented by James Bond, it’s become a true classic.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) gin
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vodka
  • 1/2 tablespoon (1/4 ounce) Lillet Blanc

Instructions

  1. Place the gin, vodka, and Lillet blanc into a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice. Shake until cold.
  2. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass.
  3. Use a knife to remove a 1″ wide strip of the lemon peel. Squeeze the lemon peel into the drink to release the oils. Gently run the peel around the edge of the glass, then place it in the glass and serve.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Vesper martini, Vesper, Vesper cocktail

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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