Vodka Classics: The Vesper

Matt Keller

Phil Greene of the Museum of the American Cocktail recently led a seminar titled “Vodka Classics” at the Warehouse Theater in Washington, DC. Guests were treated to five different vodka cocktails prepared by the staff of The Passenger, led by co-owner Derek Brown.  Guests were served the Cook Strait Sling No. 2, the Moscow Mule, the Vesper, the Caipiroska and the Cosmopolitan.

While vodka did not really get a foothold in the US Market until the 1950s, it did become more popular as its appearances in pop culture began to grow. Vodka was the spirit of choice for Ian Fleming’s James Bond, where in “Casino Royale” he famously instructed a barman to bring him “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice cold, then add a large slice of lemon-peel. Got it?” And thus the Vesper was born, named after the novel’s lead female character, Vesper Lynd. Bond is of course also famous for ordering his Vodka Martini “shaken, not stirred.” Both the use of vodka in a martini and shaking it was an act of rebellion by the bad-ass Bond as convention always called for stirring a martini so as to not cloud it with ice shards and they were always made with gin.

The Vesper:

3 oz Plymouth Gin (or Tanqueray)

1 oz Absolut Vodka

½ oz Lillet Blanc

Shake well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.


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