If you're into thinkin' and drinkin'

Episode 34: Licensed to Swill – Vesper

Episode 34 introduced the Vesper.  The unique thing about the Vesper in our menagerie of cocktail monsters is that it was fabricated entirely in a story by an author of fiction.  We have encountered a cocktail whose origins come from a movie title, but it was created by a bartender in honor of the movie.  The Vesper was first created by a pen.  It makes me wonder if Ian Fleming actually created the drink and tried it before he committed it to history in his story. 

James Bond is one of those characters that I have repeatedly encountered as long as I’ve done this podcast.  His cocktail exploits are everywhere.  He’s typically associated with the vodka martini “shaken, not stirred” but he really is all over the cocktail map.  In the case of the Vesper, Bond creates a new cocktail off the cuff and names it for the heroine in Casino Royale, a female double agent, Vesper Lynd.  I’ve not read the book, I’ve seen the 2008 film with the Daniel Craig Bond.  From the excerpts I’ve read versus the scene in the film I think the film is less cheesy (I’m not sure how you feel but, in general, I believe culturally storytelling improves with every decade as taste improves and this is an example).

Despite how enamored I am with the origins, this drink is still just essentially a form of martini, high octane with very little style, the lillet gives it just enough flavor to make it slightly better than the classic martini.

Lisa suggested Bobby create his own version which she dubbed the Burn Notice, another spy thriller, but this a television serial (that I’ve missed while gazing at my navel).  Here is the recipe for the Burn Notice:

  • 2 parts vodka
  • 2 parts gin
  • 1 part Aveze
  • A dash of grapefruit bitters
  • Lemon juice and simple syrup

Once again Bobby knows best.  If you like a more subtle cocktail, this is not it, but speaking for myself, I want the flavor, so side by side, Bobby’s version is more to my liking.

The origins of the Vesper are definite but intriguing.  It makes one ask so many “what if” questions.  What if Ian Fleming’s recipe tasted like a sack of crap, would the Bond allure overcome the actual repugnancy of the cocktail to still make a classic cocktail?  And if so, could Bond ask for a glass of warm milk and still maintain a commanding and sexy persona?  And how many other popular cultural icons are out there that create a cocktail recipe meant to be enjoyed rather than as some obscene joke?  I’m hoping to find more. 

In fact, if you dear reader, know of another drink recipe divined from the pen of a writer for a character, send me a message, as I would love to review it.

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