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License to kill

June 16, 2012

License to kill


Vesper Lynd. A woman enticing enough to not only get into James Bond’s bed, but also the only one to capture (and break) his heart. Vesper was born on a “dark and stormy” evening, and to commemorate that night, her parents named her after the Latin word for evening. And the perfect drink for an elegant evening is the one named after her, a Vesper Martini.

Ms. Lynd was such an exceptional woman, that even Bond, in his usual tuxedo, was not dapper enough to escort her to the casino. As she noted, “there are dinner jackets, and there are dinner jackets” and presented him with a perfectly tailored, grosgrain, one-button, peak-lapelled 1 (the only lapel allowed at the Tuxedo Club) tuxedo, making sure that he was a cut above and stood out from the other well-heeled men in Montenegro’s Casino Royale (it should also be noted that Bond went sans cummerbund, which gives a clean and modern look to the tux) before she would allow him to escort her to the poker table.

On those evenings when you want to elevate yourself from the other guys—as if your perfectly tailored tuxedo 2 was not enough—steal a page from Bond, and pair yourself with a Vesper.


2.5 oz. gin (Plymouth Navy Strength is preferable)
.75 oz vodka (your favorite premium brand)
.5 oz Lillet Blanc (Note: the original recipe called for Kina Lillet, which no longer exists, so you can add a dash of Angostura bitters to replicate the quinine flavor notes, but I find the drink is just fine without it, or, in a pinch, try Cocchi Americano)


Unilike Bond, Stir (Don’t Shake)

Strain into a chilled martini glass
Garnish with a lemon twist

This “perfected version” is close to the original that 007 orders in the 1953 novel: a martini with “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 slice of lemon.” Today, however, some bars (or my friend, The Tattooed Finn) swap the measurements on the liquor and use 3 parts vodka to 1 part gin. If you prefer your martinis with vodka (which, as most purists would point out, is not a martini…), you can try this version instead, but I prefer the original.

Either way, for those nights when you are not satisfied being just one of the crowd, stride up to the bar, and order a Vesper. After all, if it is good enough for Bond, it is good enough for us mortals.

Courtesy of our friend, The Rakish Bon Vivant.

1 A tuxedo lapel is normally cut in a peak lapel, which is considered the most formal, or in a shawl collar, which is considered less formal because it is derived from the smoking jacket. These days, a notched lapel, like that commonly found on a business suit, can also be found on a tuxedo, and was first seen on James Bond in Goldfinger.

2 Every man who is past the age of attending prom should own his own tux and leave rentals to those who still buy corsages for their dates.

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