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VODKA has gotten something of a bad rep amongst the gatekeepers of the last decade’s cocktail renaissance. It became so dominant as the go-to tipple for modern drinkers that many of these recently enlightened mixologists shunned the stuff in protest, reaching for stronger spirits to build their drinks. In some bars, for a time, a request for a vodka cocktail would even be denied: “We mostly use that stuff to clean the bar.”

We LUPEC ladies find the anti-vodka backlash just plain silly. But it should be noted that prior to the 196Os Americans generally favored stronger spirits when it came time to moisten the clay – reaching for rye, gin or rum top put in their drinks. When Stolichnaya vodka debuted in the Statesin the 193Os the company was faced with a challenge: how to sell Americans something that, by definition, is odorless and flavorless, a drink best described as what it doesn’t taste like?

There are very few vodka cocktails in the classic cocktail pantheon, but one that we enjoy is the Vesper, created by James Bond himself. Ian Fleming’s Bond was a bibulous secret agent who could be found drinking Taittinger Champagne, Bourbon Old Fashioneds, Americanos, Stingers, Scotch Highballs, and more. The Vesper came to life in Casino Royale, with Bond dictating the recipe to the barman: “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, thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” To his sidekick, Leiter, he remarks: “This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.” He names the drink after ill-fated love interest, double agent Vesper Lynd.

Bond calls for his drink to be shaken and served in a wine glass, be we can assure you, it will taste better if you stir it. We also suggest trying the drink with the more recently available Cocchi Americano, an aromatized wine that is said to be very similar to the mid-century recipe Lillet used to use.

The Vesper is a nice riff on a martini and a great gateway cocktail for burgeoning cocktail enthusiasts. After all, who can resist the Bond connection?

3 parts gin
1 part vodka
½ part Lillet or Cocchi Americano
Stir ingredients with ice.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or wine goblet.