Friday 21 February 2014

Vesper Martini (Handmade Cocktail Company)

Most kids dream of finding Scaletrix cars or G.I. Joe in their Christmas stockings.  I dream of getting bottles of ready-mixed cocktails.  Luckily, this year, my dream came true.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Vesper, courtesy of the Handmade Cocktail Company.

If you're going to be thoroughly cynical (something I am wont to be) it's effectively nothing more than a bottle of gin, vodka and vermouth mixed together, bottled and shipped out to those gullible few who ardently believe that the whole is greater than sum of the parts – and who are happy to pay a premium for that whole.  If you're being cynical.

The problem with that analysis is that the cynic really is wrong here.  Sorry, just plain wrong.  Because this is truly lovely stuff.

The Handmade Cocktail Company's Vesper is one of the best I've had – genuinely.  With great ease and simplicity, I could be back in Christopher's – or any other high end cocktail bar for that matter – sipping at what is, without a doubt, a fantastic martini.  The ease and simplicity are factors I can't, in all honesty, ignore: all you have to do is fill a pitcher with ice, add an overly generous glug of liquor, stir (or shake, if you want to go really OO7), and pour.  Add a twist if you're feeling up the task (oh the strain!) or an olive or two if you're feeling rambunctious.

If you've watched the film (or, better still, read the book – it's the first and the best) of Casino Royale you'll know how the drink came into being.  Bond turns to a waiter and orders thus:
"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?"

Brought alive in the fantastic film adaptation…

The Vesper is therefore unique in being neither a gin martini (or just 'a martini', as I’d have it if I had my way) nor a vodka martini – it's made from both.  Here they offset each other nicely – the gin shines through, but is not overpowering; the vodka gives it that slight oily texture that (in this context) works.  From its colour, I’d say that there's plenty of vermouth in there, but fear not: this is still a dry martini, without a doubt.

I've no idea what the gin or vodka – or the vermouth, for that matter – are.  And I'm not sure I care.  Bond is quite specific, true, but mixing a modern day Vesper is impossible: Gordon's is much weaker than it was (although pick up a bottle in Duty Free next time you're wandering through the terminal – Gordon's Export Strength is reputedly what it used to be), whilst Kina Lillet has ceased to exist.  There's a lot of stuff out there on the internet saying use Lillet Blanc, Kina's supposed predecessor, but be warned: close research suggests that it's actually very different.  The point of this?  Well, I guess it doesn’t much matter anymore whether the authentic ingredients are used, all that matters is this: what the Handmade Cocktail Company have put together is magic.

The Vesper – and all Handmade Cocktail Company products - is available through Master of Malt  (who appear to be the guys who also run the Times Whiskey Club – there are just too many similarities).  It seems pretty hard to get hold of elsewhere, so I'd start there if you're keen.

I'm a total convert to the Handmade Cocktail Company and its range of drinks.  I am chomping at the bit to try their Old Fashioned – will keep you all in the loop when I do.

Until then, get yourself a bottle of Vesper.  Stir over ice and serve straight up with a twist of lemon peel.  Sit back and enjoy, Mr Bond.

- GrubsterBoy -

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