James Bond Vesper Martini – Recipe & Story of This Epic 007 Drink

James Bond vesper martini recipe

10 minutes

Last Updated: October 3, 2023

James Bond is known for liking his martini “shaken, not stirred.” But did you know that his favorite drink, the Vesper martini, was invented by none other than Ian Fleming, the creator of the world’s most famous secret agent?

If you want to learn more about the history of this drink’s origin and other interesting facts, make sure to read everything we’ve prepared for you on this page. Of course, we won’t leave you without sharing the original James Bond martini recipe so you can make a glass for yourself and enjoy 007’s favorite drink.

The History of the 007 Martini

Some cocktails and recipes are so iconic that they’re closely tied to one fictional or historical character. The James Bond Vesper drink is certainly one of those cocktail recipes. This martini appears in the very first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, which became one of the best-known movies.

When Bond first orders this drink, Fleming tells us this is the secret agent’s invention. In the 1953 novel Casino Royale, James Bond gives the barman a recipe for what he wants to order. Bond’s conversation with the bartender is as follows:

“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? … This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I think of a good name.”

When Bond first orders this drink, Fleming lets the readers know that the agent doesn’t actually have a name for it. He just calls it a “special martini.”

Only later in the novel does Bond name the cocktail the Vesper martini. This comes as he meets the beautiful and dangerous Vesper Lynd. After talking to her, Bond says he will name the cocktail after her if she permits him to do so.

Casino Royale is the only Fleming novel where the Vesper martini is actually mentioned. Brief spoiler warning: as Vesper Lynd dies in Casino Royale, this cocktail doesn’t appear in any of Fleming’s subsequent 13 James Bond novels.

Did Ian Fleming Actually Create the Vesper Martini?

The Vesper martini was first widely heard about in Casino Royale. And while Ian Fleming is credited for the invention and popularization of this drink, he isn’t actually the one who invented it.

The Vesper martini was created by Fleming’s close friend John Felix Charles “Ivar” Bryce, a member of the British gentry. In Fleming’s memoirs, we get the author’s confirmation of this as he credits Bryce for the idea.

In Bryce’s copy of the 1953 Casino Royale novel, Fleming wrote: “For Ivar, who mixed the first Vesper and said the good word.” But, while Bryce was the one who devised the drink, Fleming was inspired by a different idea when creating the name.

Another interesting fact about the famous 007 Vesper martini is that Fleming wasn’t really a fan of it. Although he was a keen lover of martinis, Fleming admitted that he found the Vesper martini unpalatable when he first tried it.

The Famous Vesper Martini Recipe – How to Make the Casino Royale Martini

vesper martini recipes

Understanding the history behind the Vesper martini and its appearances in Fleming’s work, let’s move on to arguably the most interesting part: a step-by-step guide on how to make this special 007 martini.

The James Bond Vesper martini is very similar to a classic martini, only it replaces the standard dry vermouth with a different ingredient. Here’s the best recipe for it:

Step 1 – Prepare Your Ingredients

The Vesper martini is certainly an unusual drink compared to other martini recipes, as it combines both gin and vodka. To get the most precise version of the Vesper martini, it’s best to follow the dosing recommendations from the International Bartenders Association.

The specified dosing of ingredients indicated that you should use:

  • 90 ml (3 ounces) Gin
  • 30 ml (1 ounce) Vodka
  • 15 ml (1/2 ounce) Lillet Blanc
  • Lemon peel

Once you’ve prepared these ingredients, you can move to the next step.

The Vesper martini doesn’t specify which brand of vodka or gin you should use. Needless to say, the quality of the brand you use can have a direct impact on the result and the taste of the cocktail.

The quality of these two spirits is important as the poor-quality flavors can be obvious since the cocktail doesn’t include any juices or additional sweeteners. Many bartenders recommend using Tanqueray or Junipero for your gin of choice and a proven vodka brand like Stolichnaya.

Step 2 – Combine the Ingredients

Once you’ve prepared the right measures of every ingredient, take your cocktail shaker and combine them all together. Fill the shaker with ice (you can do this step before or after pouring the ingredients). Make sure that the lid is secure, and hold the cocktail shaker with both hands.

Shake the cocktail shaker horizontally over your shoulder. The rule of thumb is to do so until the shaker’s outside starts frosting up. If you want a more precise time frame, you can slowly count to ten. This will ensure all of the ingredients are well mixed.

If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, you can also stir the ingredients in a tall glass. That said, if you want to stay true to the recipe to the dot, you should use the shaker, as Bond prefers his drinks shaken, not stirred.

Many casual cocktail enthusiasts also use standard medium-volume jars instead of professional cocktail shakers. These work great, but you need to make sure that the jar is completely clean of any aromas and that it can be tightly sealed.

Step 3 – Serve the Vesper Martini

Once you’ve finished mixing, all that is left is to serve your cocktail. Pour the drink into a standard cocktail glass. But make sure to strain the drink first. Martinis, like Bond’s Vesper recipe, should ideally always be strained.

Straining the cocktail removes the tiny shards of ice. These small fragments can make the drink look too murky, not to mention watering it down. Replace these tiny pieces of ice with fresh cubes, as these will melt more slowly, enabling the drink to look better and retain its full flavor for longer.

To make the cocktail like a pro, use a chilled glass, as this will add an extra dimension to the drink. Lastly, garnish the Vesper martini with a large but thinly sliced lemon peel. This completes 007’s favorite drink from Casino Royale!

The Vesper Martini in Bond Movies

Although it appears in the first 007 novel, the Vesper martini wasn’t actually featured in any James Bond movie until the 2006 version of Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig as James Bond.

In the 2006 movie, there’s also a brief exchange between Vesper Lynd and Bond when she asks him if he named the drink after her because it has a “ bitter aftertaste.” 007, in his sophisticated style, answers that he did so because “once you have tasted it, you won't drink anything else.”

The Vesper martini is also mentioned in the very next installment of the franchise. The 2008 movie Quantum of Solace briefly includes a barman reciting this famous recipe.

Still, this 007 signature martini hasn’t caught wider popularity in the real world. One of the main reasons is that one of its important ingredients stopped being produced in the 1980s, but more on that later.

The Vesper martini certainly is a drink unique to the James Bond franchise. However, it never became as popular as some other classic drinks that Bond enjoyed drinking in various movies throughout the years.

Why Does 007 Prefer His Martini Shaken, Not Stirred?

Besides being an undeniably cool saying and one of the most iconic one-liners to come out of Bond’s mouth, there’s sound reasoning for why 007 wants his martini shaken, not stirred. As a connoisseur of fine and high-quality drinks, Bond knows the different results shaking and stirring a martini can produce.

Bond ordered his drinks shaken because he wanted to disperse the oils in the vodka. This was because most vodka drinks at the time were made from potatoes. Moreover, in Casino Royale, Fleming describes how shaking the martini bruises the gin. In other words, it gave it the minute bitterness Bond preferred in his martinis.

Ian Fleming himself also preferred his martinis shaken, not stirred. Fleming believed that stirring a martini reduces the drink’s full flavor. He also found that bartenders often don’t stir the drinks as long as they should, so shaking is a much faster way to get a well-mixed martini. The writer preferred both gin and vermouth in his martinis.

That said, the “shaken, not stirred” method doesn’t apply to all cocktails. For instance, drinks that use all transparent ingredients are generally better stirred than shaken. Shaken martinis are cloudier than stirred ones because shaking causes the presence of air bubbles and breaks the ice into smaller particles.

Bond and his creator, Fleming, believe that shaking the Vesper martini is the best way to make it. On the other hand, many bartenders say that there’s nothing wrong with simply stirring it as long as you do it properly. With all of that in mind, there’s no wrong answer to this, and you can mix the recipe according to your preference.

Modern Versions of the Vesper Recipe

007 james bond martini

While the Vesper martini will forever be tied to the most famous British spy in entertainment history, it’s impossible to fully reproduce his original drink nowadays. This is because one original ingredient hasn’t been in production since 1986. Kina Lillet, a quinine-flavored drink made out of white wine and fruit liqueurs, isn't available anymore.

With that in mind, you can use alternative ingredients to make the Vesper martini as close as possible to the original. The most popular choice, and one recommended by professional bartenders, is Lillet Blanc, the drink we included in the recipe above.

Although Lillet Blanc is a sweeter version with less quinine, it’s the closest substitute for the original Kina Lillet. As Lillet Blanc has a milder taste than Kina Lillet, the modern Vesper martini is certainly less bitter than the original. If you want it to be closer to the original, you can add quinine powder to make it more bitter.

For those who want to explore other alternatives, bartenders recommend using Cocchi Americano as a good substitute for Lillet Blanc. Kina L'Aéro d'Or can also be used as another alternative.

One more difference to Bond’s original comes in regards to the glass modern versions are generally served in. Fleming precisely describes Bond drinking the Vesper martini from a deep glass, such as a champagne goblet, modern versions typically use standard cocktail glasses.

What Other Drinks Does 007 Prefer?

Bond’s Vesper martini is the agent’s own creation, but 007 doesn’t stick only to this drink throughout the novels. In fact, many of Bond’s drinking habits stem directly from Fleming’s interest in particular drinks.

Bond often consumes drinks based on the situation he finds himself in, showing that a good secret agent knows how to adapt to their surroundings. A notable example of this is when Bond switches up his usual martini order with sake. This occurs in the movie You Only Live Twice when he’s drinking with the head of the Japanese secret service, Tiger Tanaka. Moreover, he even says that he prefers the drink at the exact 36.9 degrees Celsius temperature.

On other occasions, Bond has shown interest in a number of different spirits. He often enjoyed bourbon whiskey, one of Fleming’s favorite drinks. In Die Another Day, Bond drinks a mojito, while in Goldfinger, he enjoys a mint julep cocktail.

In other installments, 007 orders wine, beers, and many other drinks that often help him present himself in the right way, depending on who he’s facing.

There are many other examples of Bond digressing from his best-known orders, but one thing remains certain with 007. His appreciation for different drinks is equally as high as his propensity for adventure, so make sure to check out one of the best gambling movies ever and see it for yourself.

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