Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ian Fleming (May 28, 1908 – August 12, 1964)

With today being the 50th anniversary of the passing of British author and journalist Ian Fleming, I wanted to highlight a passage from his original James Bond book Casino Royale. It is in this initial offering of his now immortal spy series that we are introduced to Ian Fleming's signature cocktail: The Vesper. In honor of Ian Fleming, here is how the Vesper is both introduced and named in Casino Royale starting on page 44:
Bond had a feeling that this might be the CIA man. He knew he was right as they strolled off together towards the bar, after Bond had thrown a plaque of ten Mille to the croupier and had given a Mille to the huissier who drew back his chair.

'My name is Felix Leiter,' said the American. 'Glad to meet you.'
'My name is Bond - James Bond.'
'Oh yes,' said his companion, 'and now let's see. What shall we have to celebrate?'

Bond insisted on ordering Leiter's Haig-and-Haig 'on the rocks' and then looked carefully at the barman.

'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 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 can think of a good name.'

He watched carefully as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker. He reached for it and took a long sip.

'Excellent,' he said to the barman, 'but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better.'
Bond finally finds a suitable name for his cocktail upon meeting Vesper Lynd on page 52:
'Vesper,' she said. 'Vesper Lynd'

Bond gave her a look of inquiry.

'It's rather a bore always having to explain, but I was born in the evening, on a very stormy evening according to my parents. Apparently they wanted to remember it.' She smiled. 'Some people like it, others don't. I'm just used to it'
'I think it's a fine name,' said Bond. An idea struck him. 'Can I borrow it?' He explained his special Martini he had invented and his search for a perfect name for it. 'The Vesper,' he said. 'It sounds perfect and it's very appropriate to the violet hour when my cocktail will now be drunk all over the world. Can I have it?'
'So long as I can try one first,' she promised. 'It sounds a drink to be proud of.'
'Will have one together when all this is finished,' said Bond.
So did Bond and Vesper finally enjoy her namesake cocktail? I'd recommend that you read the book to find out.

Many thanks to Ian Fleming to introducing this very potent cocktail. Watch how master mixologist Alessandro Palazzi of the famed Duke's Hotel in London not only makes the Vesper Martini but gives us the behind the scenes history on the inspiration that Ian Fleming tapped into when creating the Vesper. Duke's is known to be the place where Ian Fleming came up with the idea for the Vesper.

So take a moment to give thanks to Mr. Ian Fleming for not only creating such a unique cocktail but also for creating such a timeless character in James Bond. 

Thank you Mr. Fleming. May you continue to Rest in Peace.

Until Then Happy Drinking,