Why You Can't Order James Bond's Favorite Martini As It Was Originally Served

Vesper martini with shaker and lemons
Vesper martini with shaker and lemons - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

You probably know that James Bond likes his martinis "shaken, not stirred" (although many bartenders will argue that doing so is the biggest mistake you can make with martinis). Ever the non-conformist, James Bond's favorite martini is also unusual. While the debate on the merits of a gin martini over that of a vodka martini rages on, leave it to James Bond to have both liquors in his martini of choice: the Vesper martini, an iconic drink that didn't originate in a bar but rather in the imagination of Bond's creator, Ian Fleming. The Vesper martini first appeared in "Casino Royale," the very first book of the series, in 1953, and later on the big screen in the 2006 adaptation of the film.

Fleming's recipe for the Vesper martini was three measures of Gordon's gin, one measure of vodka, and half a measure of Kina Lillet, shaken well until ice-cold, and garnished with a lemon peel. Unfortunately, you can no longer order the Vesper martini as it was originally served since Kina Lillet, is no longer available. Not only that, but the Gordon's gin of today is also not as strong as it used to be (80 proof rather than the 94 proof it would have been in the 1950s).

Read more: 13 Liquors Your Home Bar Should Have

A Bitter Substitute

ingredients for vesper martini
ingredients for vesper martini - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

Originally created in the late 1800s, Kina Lillet was an aromatized wine that contained quinine — kina means quinine in French — from the cinchona bark. However, due to changing tastes, producer Lillet reformulated the recipe in 1985, reduced the amount of quinine and sugar in the recipe, and renamed the new formulation Lillet Blanc. While Lillet Blanc is still available today, and is what many modern versions of the Vesper martini call for, including our Bond-style Vesper martini cocktail recipe, it's not the same as Kina Lillet.

There are options for those looking to recreate the original Vesper martini as James Bond first ordered it. One of the best substitutes for Kina Lillet is Cocchi Americano, an Italian aperitif made with wine that also includes cinchona bark. Other options include the Reserve Jean De Lillet, Kina L'Avion d'Or, and China Martini, which are all infused with cinchona bark and offer a similar bitter flavor profile. The Amaro Angeleno and Salers Aperitif don't contain cinchona but are otherwise bitter. You can also try adding some Angostura Bitters to Lillet Blanc or make your own infused spirit with cinchona bark. Whatever you choose, be sure to serve the martini shaken, not stirred.

Read the original article on Tasting Table