September 8, 2016 – The Republic Steakhouse
“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.” – James Bond (Casino Royale)
I’m not sure why I decided to bring this one up, but I’m glad I did. Unfortunately, Gordon’s Gin was reformulated in 1992 and Kina Lillet was changed in 1986, so it is impossible to make the original Vesper as described by Mr. Bond. We used some substitutes to good effect.
For the gin we used standard Tanqueray, which has a third less alcohol than the Gordon’s but still has a good bite and the traditional punch of juniper. Incidentally, the reason the Vesper was ordered shaken instead of stirred was that the extra dilution and chilling from being shaken smoothed out the rougher, higher proof Gordon’s.
For the Kina Lillet, we used Cocchi Americano. Although Lillet is still around, the quinine in the Kina version was removed in the 1986 formula change. Cocchi Americano contains that important ingredient and is widely believed to be the closest to the original Kina Lillet.
Although in this instance Mr. Bond requests just “vodka”, there are many other references in other Bond stories to his preference for grain-based vodka (as opposed to the potato variety). So, we went with a good plain grain-based vodka, our own Texas-made Enchanted Rock.
How did it turn out? Delicious. Ice cold, bracing, a little bitter and a lot boozy. A really excellent cocktail. Thank you, Mr. Bond! (And you too, Mr. Flemming!)