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5 delicious twists on James Bond’s classic Vesper cocktail

The classic James Bond Vesper cocktail receives five unique twists. Which one do you fancy trying?

By LLM Reporters  |  October 7, 2021
James Bond Vesper drink

James Bond’s classic Vesper cocktail must be one of the most famous drink recipes in the world, and with the new Bond film about to hit our screens, now is the perfect time to whip up your own version of this refreshing beverage.

The cocktail is named after another character in the Ian Fleming books, double agent Vesper Lynd. It’s made to a very precise recipe: three measures of gin, one measure of vodka, and a half measure of white vermouth, all served ice-cold with a slice of lemon peel or a few olives. But why not play with the historical ingredient amounts and create your own version?

Here’s a selection of Vesper cocktail versions for you to try, courtesy of Alliance Online. Of course, always remember to shake and not stir, as this is the only way Bond would drink it.

Classic lemon drop martini with olives and a lemon twist
James Bond’s classic Vesper cocktail must be one of the most famous drink recipes in the world

Add a flavoured gin for a fruity twist

The original Vesper is made with plain gin and vodka, but by adding a flavoured gin, you can turn this into a fruitier cocktail while keeping the make-up of the drink the same. Gin flavours that work particularly well in a Vesper are those with citrus notes like lemon, which combine very well with the juniper undertones that are in all gins.

For a sweeter twist on the classic cocktail, try going for a berry flavoured gin (raspberry works particularly well) or even a gin with hints of vanilla for a creamy taste. Paired with a plain vodka so as not to introduce too many conflicting flavours, this will create a version of the drink that can be paired with dessert after dinner.

You could even explore flavoured gins that are coloured, such as a show-stopping shade of blue. This will allow you to create cocktails that look beautiful as well as taste gorgeous. If you’re making these drinks for a party, movie night, or any other celebration, this can really elevate the drink to something special.

Glass of classic dry martini
Gin flavours that work particularly well in a Vesper are those with citrus notes like lemon, which combine very well with the juniper undertones that are in all gins

Make a savoury Vesper with salt

You might only be familiar with salt as an ingredient that you use on the edges of your cocktail glasses, but it has a lot of other uses too. It can bring balance to sweet and sour cocktails, as well as making bitter flavours taste more mellow. Some people also think that it can stimulate your taste receptors and make your drink more enjoyable, according to Thrillist.

Keeping all this in mind, you can add some salt to your Vesper recipe in order to turn it into a more savoury beverage. This cocktail will utilise your usual gin, vodka, and white vermouth, and then also include a saline solution. Make your saline (salt water) solution prior to mixing your other ingredients. You will need a 2:1 mix of warm water to salt.

Simply make your cocktail, then add the salt water a little at a time until you have your desired savoury flavour – either add it with a dropper if you have one, or a small teaspoon. As a last additional flavour, some springs of rosemary will go very well with this cocktail, with some olives as a garnish.

If you can’t find any non-alcoholic spirits, try using fruit juices such as melon or pineapple in the same amounts you would use your spirits

A low alcohol version of the Vesper

If you love the taste of the classic Vesper but it’s a bit too alcoholic for a work night, there are ways to lower the units so you can have a tipple or two without worrying about feeling hungover the next day. When making a lower alcohol version of this cocktail, you can take out the traditional white vermouth and replace it with non-alcoholic white wine, white grape juice, or even another fruit juice such as apple.

Then, you can replace the usual gin with a non-alcoholic version – there are quite a few on the market now. Or, explore other alcohol-free spirits, which are made from various botanicals and can bring a unique flavour to your mocktails. Replace either the gin or the vodka with your alcohol-free spirit of choice, and enjoy a lighter version of your Vesper.

If you can’t find any non-alcoholic spirits, try using fruit juices such as melon or pineapple in the same amounts you would use your spirits. This will leave you with a fruity, low alcohol version of the martini.

Martini cocktail
For this drink, ideally your glasses should be very cold

An alcohol-free mocktail Vesper

If you don’t drink, or you’re trying a detox after a summer of barbecues and tipples in the garden, you can still get involved with celebrating the new Bond film with a themed drink. As explained above, there are lots of alcohol-free choices for gin, as well as plenty of non-alcohol spirits that will bring interesting flavours to your drink. And combined with fruit flavours, they can create a cocktail that will still hit the spot.

Try taking 100ml (two shots) of a non-alcoholic spirit, and add it to the juice of one lemon, an egg white, two teaspoons of sugar syrup, and the pulp from one passion fruit. Shake all these ingredients up in a cocktail shaker, then add a handful of ice cubes and shake it some more, until the outside of the shaker feels cold. Use the lid of the shaker to strain the drink into two glasses, so you don’t have any fruit seeds in the beverage. Top up the drink with a little grape juice, and add your olives.

classic dry martini cocktail
Explore what your favourite flavours are and find your own unique James Bond beverage

The orange liqueur Vesper for autumn

An orange liqueur version of the Vesper is perfect for the transition from summer to autumn. This is a very simple twist, and it is an easy one to try out: instead of making your martini with white vermouth, use the same amount of orange liqueur. Then, combine it with the usual amounts of gin and vodka to enjoy a beverage that’s fruity without being too sweet.

For this drink, ideally your glasses should be very cold. Put them in the freezer or fill them with ice water while you’re mixing up the cocktail ingredients, and this will make sure they’re cold when it’s time to try your drink. If you’ve chilled the glasses to the optimum temperature, you’ll see tiny ice crystals forming on them that will then float on top of your Vesper, giving it that professional touch.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy this famous Bond cocktail, so try these ideas out at home, or have a go at finding your own methods change up the recipe. As well as flavoured gins, there is a large variety of gins that all have different balance of flavour, so try some and discover what your preferred balance of sweet, sour, and savoury is.

This is a shaken cocktail, so it’s important to make sure that you have a good cocktail shaker. Find one that has a strainer in the lid, so that you can use it to keep your drink free of fruit seeds when you’ve finished mixing it. Classic martini glasses will also add that final cinematic touch to your drink when it’s made and can improve your drinking experience too.

Lastly, adding a strip of lemon peel or two olives on a cocktail stick will add a last bit of either citrus or savoury flavour to the cocktail. For the salt water martini, olives will be ideal, while for the fruity non-alcoholic drink, lemon peel is perfect. So, explore what your favourite flavours are and find your own unique James Bond beverage.