May 10, 2009

Danger Mouse Cocktail

Fans of James Bond will be familiar with the Vesper cocktail, named after his love interest from Casino Royale. James says he likes to drink just a single cocktail before dinner, and he likes it to be strong. Nobody would argue otherwise about a Vesper.

A regular martini is already pretty strong stuff, especially with today's larger cocktail glasses. I once made the mistake of ordering a Hendrick's Gin martini at Elizabeth's in Fairhaven one night after a symposium. I declined to order dinner, planning to have a quick drink and a relatively quick exit. My mistake. When you say "extremely dry martini" you essentially get a glass of gin. My brain knew this, but my brain was taking a rest after a long week. Halfway through the martini, when my companions were halfway through their dinners, I realized I was going to be there a while. Still, it was a very good martini.

A Vesper is a martini that has been fortified. The modern version of the Vesper (since one of its ingredients is no longer made) contains 3 oz gin, 1 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc and a couple of dashes of bitters. Lillet Blanc is a white wine with aromatics and botanicals added, taking on a mostly citrus essence.

It's a bracing cocktail, not for the faint of heart, and properly served in a deep champagne goblet. I drank one of these the other night, and found it quite fortifying. If you serve these to your guests, be certain to offer them a room for the night, or to call a cab.

I liked the Lillet Blanc and I think I will always use it in place of vermouth whenever I mix a martini for myself (which isn't often anyhow). But I wanted a cocktail that would have a similar flavor to a Vesper but not pack quite as much punch. So I have invented the Danger Mouse.

Danger Mouse Cocktail

  • 2 oz gin. (London Dry Gin; I'm using Plymouth at the moment)
  • 0.5 oz Lillet Blanc
  • 2 dashes of your best bitters (I'm using Stirrings Blood orange)
  • 1.5 oz tonic water

Shake the gin, Lillet Blanc and Bitters over ice. Pour the tonic water into the shaker. Pour contents of shaker into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel if desired.

This is quite a bit less powerful than a Vesper. It's got approximately half the alcohol in it. Two ounces of gin is plenty for a casual drink. It's about as strong as a gin and tonic, I suppose. It tastes enough like a Vesper to drink when you're craving one but don't want to pickle yourself.

It's named, of course, for another famous secret agent.

Posted by James at May 10, 2009 11:31 PM
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I love that you've named this the Danger Mouse.

Now...what would one concoct for a Penfold?

Posted by: Patti M. at May 11, 2009 8:24 AM

Ahh. Now maybe I could drink a Penfold. Some milk and tea, perhaps.

Posted by: Maggie at May 11, 2009 10:06 AM

You know, I don't mind a strong drink every now and then, but very dry Martinis were never my thing.

I got a killer buzz just reading the Vesper recipe. I think the Danger Mouse would be up my alley.

Posted by: Bull at May 11, 2009 1:37 PM

A Vesper might be nice once in a great while, maybe after a really horrible day, but it's a very large and expensive drink! Danger Mouse sounds like a more sustainable habit.

I like regular martinis too, but the Danger Mouse also sounds more refreshing.

Posted by: Julie at May 11, 2009 3:15 PM

I could have used a couple of these last night!

Posted by: Tirzha at May 11, 2009 3:52 PM

I'll have to make up a Penfold.

Yes, this is a more refreshing drink. It's missing the lime you would get in a G&T, but if you were to add lime, I wouldn't try to stop you.

Posted by: James at May 11, 2009 4:39 PM

From the sound of it, maybe I'd rather add orange. Or maybe even grailfrit? (Not sure if that's a good match - haven't had lillet blanc.)

Posted by: Julie at May 11, 2009 6:11 PM

Yes; orange or lemon would go better with the Lillet Blanc, I think. Though I've not tried lime yet with it.

Posted by: James at May 11, 2009 10:19 PM

I vote we try one of each ;)

Posted by: Tirzha at May 12, 2009 1:04 AM

I think you might have to come up with a Prejean cocktail. Whatever the other ingredients, I think a splash of Campari is appropriate, given the tinge of bitterness in her.

Beware: Some have proposed that Dan Savage come up with a definition of "prejean" along the lines of how he worked on a definition for "santorum," so you might want to hold off a bit.

Posted by: Patti M. at May 14, 2009 7:15 PM

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