“One drink of vodka in a cheerful glass, in the company of good poetry and the scent of blossoms and earth might entice the most well intended to forgo promise of atonement until a worse time. I have at times been just less than amazed how one drink merges with the second, where at some unknown point a mental transformation sets in.” – Ronald Everett Capps, Off Magazine Street
As connoisseurs say, Martini is a drink with many options. Every bartender knows how to prepare the classic Martini:
2 1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1 green olive or lemon twist for garnish
Orange or Angostura bitters (optional)
The bartender first fills a mixing glass with ice cubes, pours the ingredients over the ice and after stirring for half a minute, strains the mix into a chilled cocktail glass. If desired, he will add a dash of orange or Angostura bitters. Finally, he adds an olive or a lemon twist garnish.
There are many shades of the classic martini. Dry Martini uses a bit more dry vermouth. Bone Dry Martini also known as Desert Martini does not contain vermouth. Gibson Martini uses a cocktail onion for garnish. Perfect Marini has equal portions of dry and sweet vermouth. Dirty Martini contains a dash of olive brine. 50:50 Martinii uses equal parts of gin and dry vermouth. In Vodka Martini, vodka replaces gin.
I like this quote from Casino Royale where James Bond sent to play a high-stakes baccarat game against Le Chiffre orders a martini:
“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.”
James Bond: I think I’ll call it a Vesper.
Vesper Lynd: Because of the bitter aftertaste?
James Bond: No, because once you’ve tasted it, that’s all you want to drink.
Vesper Martini uses both gin and vodka. However, it uses the delicate, golden-colored French aperitif Kina Lillet often referred to as “L’apéritif de Bordeaux” in lieu of the usual dry vermouth, and lemon peel instead of an olive for garnish.
Ingredients for Vesper Martini:
3 measures of Gordon’s Gin
1 measure of vodka
1/2 measure Kina Lillet
One large thin slice of lemon peel for garnish
Since the publication of the book Casino Royale in 1953, there has been much change. English Gordon’s gin now under 80 proof used to be 94 then. The brand of vodka though not specified in the novel or the film have a Bond connection in both 100 proof Stolichnaya and Smirnoff. Now, the Kina Lillet, can be found labeled as White or Blanc Lillet.
I found this recipe for a modern Vesper in Esquire.
The Vesper, 2006
Shake (if you must) with plenty of cracked ice:
3 ounce Tanqueray gin
1 ounce 100-proof Stolichnaya vodka
1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc
1/8 teaspoon (or less) quinine powder or, in desperation, 2 dashes of bitters
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and twist a large swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top. Shoot somebody evil.
Oh, and don’t worry about the champagne goblet. Cocktail glasses are bigger now. And that shaking business? All things being equal, a stirred martini will be colder and silkier. Just so you know.