July 6, 2011

∴ Vespers At the Vesper Bar

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a new hotel and casino adjacent to the new CityCenter, sports an interesting little bar smack in the middle of the property. Called Vesper Bar, its claim is dedication to the lost art of the cocktail. We visited this afternoon.

I ordered up a namesake Vesper, the original James Bond martini from Ian Fleming's 1953 Casino Royale. The Vesper is my current fave concoction and a pleasure to make. According to Fleming, the recipe is three parts Gordon's gin, one part (Russian) vodka, and one-half part Kina Lillet (no longer manufactured) shaken with ice until very cold, and served with a large, thin slice of lemon.

The cocktail I was served was quite good. Better, I think, than my own. I asked the barman for his take on the drink and he replied "two parts gin." Now, I've take a liberty or two with the recipe to make my own, using Hendrick's or Broker's gin rather than Gordon's, and Svedka vodka in lieu of the Russian stuff, even adding a dash or two of Angostura bitters to the modern Lillet Blanc to bring back some of the original product's bitterness imparted by quinine.

This fellow has gone and lowered the gin content by one-third. He also used some sort of tool (I wasn't near enough to see) to separate a really large swatch of lemon rind without taking any of the bitter pith. The lemon peel is always a challenge for me. His result was enjoyable, if a tad warm, but not diluted by too much shaking.

Kelly ordered a Cosmopolitan, and it was yummy. The barman used a splash of blood orange juice in the mix and floated a slice of the fruit on top. That kind of flavor balancing is part of the "lost" art of the cocktail. Cosmo fans will no doubt enjoy an interlude at Vesper Bar, watching the world go by.

Now I have to find that bar tool. I have some tinkering to do.