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The Vesper is a cocktail consisting of gin, vodka and Kina Lillet. It originates from the 1953 book Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, in which it is shown to be an invention of James Bond. He names it after his love interest in the story, Vesper Lynd.

Kina Lillet was reformulated in the 1970s, becoming the Lillet Blanc marketed today. The reformulation contains less quinine than the original Kina Lillet. Also, both the gin and vodka would have been higher proof than normally used today.



There are various stories of who invented the Vesper but its true actual origin is outlined in "Your Only Live Once" he autobiography of Ivar Bryce, a close friend of Ian Fleming. Bryce recalls that in his copy of Casino Royale Felming inscribed "To Ivar, who mixed the first vesper and said the good word". Bryce also recounts that the name Vesper came from a drink he was served at the house of a British colonel living in Jamaica which consisted of frozen rum, fruit and herbs.


The Vesper

Shake with ice, and then strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with a lemon twist.

The Vesper, 2006

From "Esquire Magazine" in an attempt to match the potency of what what the drink would have been like in 1953.

  • 3 oz Tanqueray gin
  • 1 oz 100-proof Stolichnaya vodka
  • 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
  • 1/8 teaspoon (or less) quinine powder or, in desperation, 2 dashes of bitters

Shake with plenty of cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and twist a large swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top.

The Vesper, 2010

Inspired by the work previously done by David Wondrich of Esquire, further research was conducted to create evermore close to the 1953 version.

  • 3 oz Gordon's Export London dry Gin (47.3%ABV)
  • 1 oz 100-proof Stolichnaya vodka
  • 1/4oz Lillet Blanc
  • 1/4oz China Martini

Analysis of bottles and adverts revealed 47.3%ABV to be the strength of Gordons Gin at the time Fleming wrote Casino Royale. Using this gin give the drink a more authentic strength but maintains the use of the brand specified by Bond. The use of a Lillet Blanc - China Martini add some bitterness but also a slight syrupiness which would have been associated with Kina Lillet. Unlike the use of alternatives such as Cocchi Americano this version keeps some Lillet in the mix.

Historical References

Casino Royale, Ian Fleming, 1953

"A dry martini," he said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."

"Oui, monsieur."

"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 then 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."

He watched carefully as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising shaker. He reached for it and took a long sip.

"Excellent," he said to the barman, "but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better."

See also

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