Let’s set our targets on the Vesper cocktail. The first classic cocktail ever invented for a fictional character, this is the first drink James Bond orders in Casino Royale.
The original recipe for a Vesper:
3 parts of Gordon’s Gin
1 part Vodka
1/2 part Kina Lillet (which ceased production in the 1980’s)
In chapter seven of the book, Bond order’s it thus,
“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?” (Casino Royale, Ian Fleming, 1953)
Christened for Vesper Lynd, the beautiful double agent that Bond tragically falls for in the first novel. Close study of the Bond character shows that he continues to visit her grave throughout the series. When near death Bond has visions he’s reunited with Vesper. In between, he liberally consumes every spirit on the back-bar, including bourbon Old Fashioned’s.
The original Vesper Cocktail is more about the gin than the marriage of gin, vodka and apéritif. Which leaves room for experimentation. Something that I did while in California recently. Belvedere has just launched a new variant in their infused category and I got to have a taste. It seemed like the perfect time to try a twist on the Vesper.
1 part Belvedere Mango Passion Infused Vodka
1 part Tru Organic Gin
Juice from 1 Kumquat
1 small bunch of fresh Dill
Combine ingredients in shaker tin. Add ice and shake. Double strain into chilled coupé. Garnish with fresh dill and express oil from a grapefruit peel over glass.
The Belvedere Mango Passion is a olfactive odyssey. The nose is sweet Tangerine. The mouth-feel suggests a creaminess from Mango. Mandarin resonates. There is lingering lime and passion-fruit on the pleasantly dry finish.
The Grand Poppy liqueur is a complex melange of bitter California poppy, artichoke, orange, lemon, grapefruit, bearberry, California bay leaf, pink peppercorn, dandelion, blessed thistle, burdock, rue, artichoke, gentian, geranium, cherry bark and cane sugar. It conjures the feeling of a very bitter-sweet Lillet, as the Kina originally tasted.
The Tru Organic Gin has a wheat spirit base macerated with juniper, lemon, lavender, angelica, orris, coriander, vanilla, cardamom, clove, fennel, cinnamon, allspice, chamomile and star anise for up to two months giving it a distinctive color and bold flavor.
In Poland dill, or ‘koper’, is one of the most popular herbs in the regional cuisine. It is a perfect aromatic addition to the cocktail. The Kumquat brings a unique form of acidity. The grapefruit oil complements the array of other botanicals and fruits.