James Bond named his martini the Vesper, after a woman he loved(Corbis)
James Bond sips his signature drink—always shaken with ice, never stirred—in Ian Fleming's first Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953). Bond describes it this way: "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?"
Bond names the drink the Vesper after a woman he loved. But the recipe for the Vesper varies across the series, depending on what vodka's in stock. Bond always favors grain vodkas (versus potato-based varieties). And instead of vermouth, which you'll find in most martinis today, Bond prefers the no-longer-made wine-based apertif, Kina Lillet.
For help, we turned to Charles Axworthy, a moderator at CommanderBond.net, a site dedicated to all things Bond. If you want something close to the Vesper, Axworthy says that Belvedere vodka or Bombay Sapphire gin, with a bit of Lillet Blanc—a French aperitif similar to the original Kina Lillet—hits nearest the mark. In the absence of Lillet, he says, any dry vermouth will do.
Here are five bars that you can count on to serve a great martini the Bond way.
The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, 9641 Sunset Blvd., 310/276-2251, thebeverlyhillshotel.com, $18
Playboy Club at the Palms Casino Resort, 4321 W. Fleming Rd., 702/942-7777, palms.com, $16
Cover charge: Sunday-Thursday before 10 p.m. $10, after 10 p.m. $20; Friday-Saturday before 10 p.m. $20; after 10 p.m. $40.
Scott's, 20 Mount St., 011-44/20-7495-7309, scotts-restaurant.com, about $17
Sir Harry's at the Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Ave., 212/872-4890, waldorfastoria1.hilton.com, about $22
Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco, 1 Nob Hill, 415/392-3434, ichotelsgroup.com, $12
Cover charge: Tuesdays $5; Wednesday-Saturday $10.