The Vesper
Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the first James Bond novel, 1953’s Casino Royale, Bond orders a drink of his own invention:

‘A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet.’

‘Oui, monsieur.’

‘Just a moment. 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?’

‘Certainly monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

‘Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,’ said Leiter.

Bond laughed. ‘When I’m … er … concentrating,’ he explained, ‘I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold, and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I think of a good name.’

The name he thinks of is the Vesper, ostensibly inspired by the character Vesper Lynd. But in fact the recipe wasn’t original to Bond — Fleming had first received the drink from the butler of an elderly couple in Jamaica — it was named after vespers, a service of evening prayer. Bond says, “It sounds perfect and it’s very appropriate to the violet hour when my cocktail will now be drunk all over the world.” He’d have trouble getting one today — Kina Lillet was discontinued in 1986, and the strength of Gordon’s Gin was reduced in 1992.