James Bond's Famous Vesper Martini

Vesper Martini

The Spruce Eats

  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail (1 serving)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
483 Calories
0g Fat
12g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 cocktail (1 serving)
Amount per serving
Calories 483
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 5mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 0mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Every James Bond fan knows this recipe as the first martini that Bond ordered in Ian Fleming's 1953 book, "Casino Royale" (or the 2006 movie). It is possibly the most famous drink order in history and extremely precise. Recreating the Vesper martini at home is easier than you may think.

This drink is purely fictional, one created by the author in his first book about the now-famous British Secret Service agent. It's even become known as the "Bond martini." Of course, as any devotee of the books or movies knows, Bond is very fond of fine cocktails and this was certainly not the last drink in the series.

The Vesper martini is interesting because it combines gin and vodka with Lillet Blanc (commonly substituted with dry vermouth). It's a very potent mix and Fleming (er, Bond) is very particular about two of the ingredients involved.

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Ingredients

  • 3 ounces gin (Gordon's)
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc (or dry vermouth)
  • Garnish: lemon peel

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the ingredients.

  3. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

  4. Garnish with a large piece of lemon peel.

  5. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Variation

  • Swap out the Lillet for Cocchi Americano, which carries a bitter note that the original James-Bond-era Kina Lillet supposedly had.

Shaken, Not Stirred

The recipe is easy enough, though many people prefer to stir it like they do a classic martini. The shake is actually a good thing here because it dilutes the drink, which is very heavy on the alcohol.

How Strong Is a Vesper Martini?

It's said that vodka in the '50s was often bottled at 100 proof and that Gordon's was 94 proof at the time (it's since been reformulated). Factoring those numbers in, the Vesper could easily be a 39 percent ABV (78 proof) cocktail. That's equivalent to a straight shot of most vodkas on the market today.

Anytime there's a debate over shaking versus stirring cocktails, one can't help but think of Bond's famous line, "shaken, not stirred." It first appeared in Fleming's 1956 novel, "Diamonds Are Forever." One thing's for sure, Fleming certainly knew his way around great drinks.

Here's how to make the Vesper according to Ian Fleming and James Bond: "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", Chapter 7.)

Interpreting Bond's Vesper Martini

The Kina Lillet that Bond speaks of is labeled today as Blanc (or White) Lillet (pronounced lee-lay). It's a brand of aromatized wine that's similar to dry vermouth (a fortified wine). Lillet has been made in France since the late 1800s and is often referred to as "the apèritif of Bordeaux."

The Gordon's Gin available in the U.S. today is different than that found in the United Kingdom. They're both different than the Gordon's that Fleming knew because the recipe and strength have changed.

While Gordon's is a good everyday gin, there are now plenty of better options to choose from. Many people prefer Tanqueray or Beefeater, though some like Plymouth. Pretty much any top-shelf gin will make a nice Vesper.

As mentioned, the vodka Bond would have likely drank (had he not been a fictional character, of course) was probably 100 proof. These are not the easiest bottles to find, though brands like Absolut, New Amsterdam, and Svedka are available. If you want an upgrade, don't worry about the strength and pour your favorite premium vodka.

Finally, Bond's glassware of choice for the Vesper is a deep Champagne goblet. Many of the cocktail glasses used back in Fleming's time would have held only 3 ounces and, when shaken, the Vesper tops off at almost 5 ounces.

It's reasonable to assume that the goblet preference was simply a matter of volume. However, today big martini glasses are very common so you won't find any issues with the majority of modern drinkware options.