“Cocktail College” is brought to you by Ketel One Vodka. Certain brands out there, certain vodka brands, want you to believe that these spirits should be flavorless and odorless and they achieve this profile through multiple runs of distillation in column stills. They actually celebrate this thing; they market it. But you’re a discerning drinker, “Cocktail College” listener, aren’t you? And you know that vodka should have character, subtle character, and that arrives from the base ingredient and the production technique. In the case of Ketel One, we’re talking about a wheat base, made using a blend or a mix of pot and column still distillation. And what you get there is character, but subtle character, so that it’s going to enhance but never overpower your favorite vodka cocktails, your Matinis, your Cosmos. Ketel One stands so firmly behind this production technique that on every single bottle there’s an invitation for you, the drinker, to visit them at their Netherlands distillery. And hey, why wouldn’t they? They’ve only got 330 years of family distilling experience right there. So it’s understandable that they back themselves, and you should back them too, listener. You should pick up a bottle and head to www.ketelone.com to learn more. Please Drink Responsibly. KETEL ONE Vodka. Distilled from Grain. 40% Alc./Vol. Double Eagle Brands, B.V. Imported by Ketel One USA, Aliso Viejo, CA
In the wake of the post-pandemic rush back to bars, we’ve witnessed a return to the classics, especially the Martini. But with this reprise also came riffs aplenty, so much so that some drinks labeled as “Martinis” couldn’t be further from the original — many are only recognizable thanks to that quintessential serving glass. But one subcategory of the Martini family seems to have dodged an out-of-pocket makeover: the Vesper.
Unlike many classic cocktails, the Vesper has clear origins: James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel “Casino Royale.” In one chapter, Mr. Bond calls the “bar man” over and orders a specific Martini riff with a split base of gin and vodka. Though he refrains from naming it, the cocktail was christened “the Vesper” as a nod to the Bond character Vesper Lynd, who turns out to be a double agent working undercover as a Soviet spy.
The word “vesper” literally translates to “evening star” in Latin — a delicate title for such a big and boozy cocktail. On that front, there are no bold syrups, spices, or smoke in this drink, just a blend of clean, austere ingredients that need to be mixed just right, whether shaken or stirred.
Today, we’re digging deep into the “Cocktail College” vaults as we resurface our conversation on the Vesper. Little did we know when we first recorded this episode that the Vesper would end up going on a quiet tear in recent times. Bartenders just can’t resist building on the Martini trend, lending their interpretations of this riff to their menus. Joining us for that chat was Patrick Smith, who’s now senior beverage manager of Union Square Hospitality Group. Tune in for more.
Patrick Smith’s Vesper Recipe
- 2 ounces London Dry gin
- 1 ounce vodka
- 1 ounce of Tempus Fugit Kina L’Aéro d’Or
- Garnish: manicured lemon twist
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
- Stir until cold and strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Garnish with an expressed, manicured lemon twist.