Shaken, Not Stirred
Bartenders around town have been reporting a heightened frequency of orders for the Vesper. This is no doubt because of the popularity of the new James Bond film, which is said to present a harder, more serious Bond instead of that wry, wisecracking guy we all started to hate (I have yet to see the film).
Invented in the novel Casino Royale by Bond in honor of his doomed love interest Vesper Lind, the Vesper is actually a lovely take on the classic Martini. Its invention also an important moment in the history of drinking, as it gives rise to both the notion of shaking the martini and, more important, the use of vodka in the martini. As everyone now knows, the martini was always a gin drink until James Bond. It was in honor of Lind, a Russian double agent, that Bond turned to the Russian spirit, and the Vesper with its signature combination of gin and vodka was the transitional drink.
By fusing gin and vodka, he was joining England and Russia in a martini glass. The Lillet Blanc (a nod to France) helps make that transition smoother to the tongue. In the photo is a Vesper, as rendered by the good barmen at Bourbon & Branch.