Bond 25 News: Christopher Nolan’s Syncopy to Produce?

Bond 25 News: Christopher Nolan’s Syncopy to Produce?

bond 25 header

Bond 25 News and Rumblings: Christopher Nolan’s Syncopy to Produce?

We’ve waited months for any shred of information about the next entry in the Bond series, and this week we’ve been hit with a cold, dead WTF fish. A WTF fish wakes us from our stupor. Initially the impact feels refreshing. News! News! And then once the thrilling sting dissipates, the curious stench of the cold, dead partially decomposed WTF fish remains.

The news broke this week via the @Bond25 twitter account that IMDb had listed “Bond 25” under the “In development” projects at Syncopy, Christopher Nolan’s production company. After the Interwebs verified this news with IMDb, they jumped to the conclusion that Nolan had been slated to direct the next Bond film. Let’s not plan on James Bond carrying any shark-repellant Bat Spray in his attache case just yet.

christopher nolan

Christopher Nolan contemplates the ways in which he can make Batman and James Bond the same character once and for all.

Just because Nolan’s a talented director doesn’t make him fit to direct a Bond film. He’s admitted he crafted his Batman after James Bond, but Bond demands a lighter touch and a measure or tease of sexuality along with these routine action beats. This is not Christopher Nolan territory. And quite frankly that wasn’t Sam Mendes territory either. Phil Nobile, Jr. threatened to break out Le Chiffre’s testicle whip on anyone that suggested another “name” director for James Bond, and I’m firmly on board with this proposition. Considering Eon’s history as an isolated creative entity, Syncopy’s collaboration seems patently absurd. It also doesn’t mean Nolan will direct; it’s more likely that Eon (helmed by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson) has merely shed some production duties onto Syncopy. There’s likely a legitimate business-related reason for this coupling.

syncopy logo

Bond 25’s Distribution Deal Not Yet Done

Nolan and Syncopy’s involvement in Bond 25 makes more sense when paired with a few other interesting developments. First, the distribution rights for the film remain up in the air. Family-held Eon and MGM control the fate of the franchise but do not distribute the films. Sony Pictures Entertainment has released all of the Craig-era Bond movies, but their contract expired after Spectre. Five studios, including Sony, have made their best pitch to land the rights to distribute James Bond. The others are Warner Bros., Universal, 20th Century Fox, and the little upstart that could, Annapurna. Though Eon retains almost complete creative control, the distributing studio — as the Daddy Warbucks of this operation — will have some creative input. The selection or approval of a director, perhaps.

Bond 25 Scores a Director?

Paul McGuigan

WICKER PARK, Paul McGuigan, 2004, (c) MGM

Rumors broke this week that Eon has been meeting with potential Bond 25 directors and the name Paul McGuigan sits high on their list. McGuigan has a curious big-sceen resume consisting of Wicker ParkGangster No. 1Lucky Number Slevin and Victor Frankenstein. Let’s not dwell on the latter two titles for long as they only serve to further dampen potential enthusiasm. McGuigan has shown more consistent talent on the small screen, having directed the Sherlock pilot for the BBC and two episodes of Luke Cage. More importantly McGuigan helmed Eon Productions’ upcoming release Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, which puts his foot firmly in the door to Babs’ office.

McGuigan’s precisely the kind of director that has excelled in the Bond universe. Short on tentpoles, long on small successes, adept at ego-less shepherding rather than innovating. See Martin Campbell, John Glen, Lewis Gilbert. If there’s a specific creative direction that would most benefit Bond in 2017 and beyond, it’s a step back from Batman and a step closer to Sherlock Holmes. Therefore, If Eon hopes to sell McGuigan to a potential distribution partner, Christopher Nolan and Syncopy become the insurance policy on their undervalued commodity.

rachel tallalay

Rachel Tallalay talks Dr. Who.

Another name I heard mentioned in idle chatter is Rachel Tallalay. The Tank Girl director helmed an excellent episode of Sherlock (“The Six Thatchers”) and boasts Dr. Who, The Flash and Supergirl credits. I normally leave such musings on the message boards, but selecting a clearly qualified female director for a James Bond film would create immediate and generous buzz for the already high-profile project.

Sidenote: Here’s a crazy idea. And I’m just spitballing here… but let’s call Martin Campbell. Just to see what if he can fit Bond in around his fishing schedule.

It’s no secret that Christopher Nolan has long coveted a share of the Bond franchise. Syncopy’s willing involvement should probably come as no surprise, yet Eon’s eagerness to share their property most certainly does. Immediately I thought that Michael G. Wilson was finally taking a step back from his duties to focus on new and inventive Bond-movie cameos. The 75-year-old producer had mentioned ceding more control to Barbara, and maybe Barbara was in turn trying to find a partner to assist her now and in the near future.

daniel craig spectre sunglasses

Will Craigers return for Bond 25?

This all comes, of course, in the void of any definitive word about the face of the franchise, Daniel Craig. I’ve been saying this since the release of Spectre: I think Craig will come back for one more film. We’ll never know what’s actually on Craig’s mind because he loves lobbing holy hand grenades of misdirection during interviews. If he hasn’t yet made up his mind, we should also consider that any one (or all) of these behind-the-scenes machinations aim to keep Craigers in a tuxedo for a fitting final entry in the Daniel Craig-era. If he isn’t returning, well… let’s brace ourselves for the impact of yet another WTF fish in the near future.

wtf fish

Jaws: James Bond’s Greatest Adversary

Jaws: James Bond’s Greatest Adversary

jaws - james bond greatest villain

Midway through Moonraker, James Bond (Roger Moore) and Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) board a tram to take them to the bottom of Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. A certain towering and infamous henchman disrupts their journey by jamming the tram’s gears in the engine room. When James Bond climbs out of the tram to get a better view, the henchman bites through the cable with his steel-belted teeth and boards another tram heading towards our stalled hero.

“I might have guessed,” Bond says.

Goodhead responds, “Do you know him?”

“Not socially. His name’s Jaws. He kills people.”

In another moment, Jaws appears opposite Bond on the other tram car. The two exchange knowing smiles before engaging in high-wire fisticuffs over the Guanabra Bay.

James Bond and Jaws smile on the Moonraker tram

Bond’s line “His name’s Jaws. He kills people.” serves as a perfect introduction for 007’s most formidable and only repeat non-Blofeld adversary. After all, this is also all the audience knows about Jaws as well. No backstory. No circuitous ties to Bond’s past. Only murder and the relentless pursuit of James Bond. He’s succeeded in dispatching all of his targets (Bond excepted, of course), often brutally. In The Spy Who Loved Me he quite literally bit a man to death.

Audiences love to hate a great villain. From these conflicted emotions emerges a conundrum. The audience secretly hopes that neither our hero nor our villain will ever truly be beaten. We come to love the pursuit more than the hope or expectation of victory.

 

Jaws, an Origin Story

James Bond has always fought a colorful cast of villains. While the smooth and sophisticated British agent of espionage remains the face of the franchise, the Bond movies have always relied heavily on the creative guile and menace of Bond’s adversaries. A great James Bond film must have great villains.

Goldfinger (1964) has long been a series benchmark, but look at the film more closely. James Bond makes a series of unfortunate decisions that lead to his repeated capture and exploitation. He’s not even directly responsible for saving the day — that job fell to Pussy Galore. But we gloss over Bond’s failures and the film’s narrative vagaries because Goldfinger boasts the series’ most iconic pair of baddies in Auric Goldfinger and his henchman, the hat-tossing Oddjob. It’s James Bond’s cat and mouse game between these two villains that makes the film an essential. Also, Pussy Galore. But we’re here to talk about specific villainy, not about single entendres.

To trace the roots of Jaws (played by the late Richard Kiel), one must start with that imposing Korean (Japanese wrestler Harold Sakata). Aside from his skill at tossing a metal-rimmed bowler hat, Oddjob also proves to be an unstoppable physical presence. When he and Bond do battle in the Fort Knox finale, Oddjob throws Bond around like a rag doll. Bond tosses a gold brick that bounces off the henchman’s chest like Styrofoam. A block of wood to his face results only in a wry smile. It’s clear that Bond cannot best Oddjob physically. Bond instead defeats Oddjob by testing the brute’s knowledge of electrical resistivity and conductivity.

oddjob electrocuted

Spoiler alert: Oddjob skipped that week in AP Physics.

The kind of cartoonish superhuman physical prowess displayed by Oddjob would not return to the Bond series until 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, the debut of Jaws as Karl Stomberg’s hired assassin. Jaws showcases the same immunity to physical pain, the same brand of insurmountable strength displayed by Oddjob in Goldfinger. Like Oddjob, Jaws also does not speak – at least until the very end of Moonraker, but we’ll return to that in a moment. Jaws also one-ups Oddjob in the iconic prop department. Instead of an aerodynamic bowler hat, Jaws comes pre-packaged with steel teeth. Less old-timey class, more immediate medieval menace.

jaws - the spy who loved me

 

The Value of Henching

“Every good villain has a good henchman, of course. The most memorable of all has to be Jaws, as played by my good friend Richard Kiel.” Roger Moore, My Word is My Bond

In the Bond universe, the main villains, as the brains of the operation, employ henchmen to do their dirty work. While they scheme and manipulate from remote, secluded lairs and fortresses safely removed from confrontation, the hired henchmen confront Bond on the frontlines. Bond henchmen come in all packages, from the 3’10” Nick Nack (Herve Villachaize in The Man with the Golden Gun) to the 7’2″ Jaws, from voodoo loa Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder in Live and Let Die) to the erotophonophliac Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen in GoldenEye).

famke janssen onatopp

Just an excuse to post a picture of Famke Janssen in GoldenEye. (1995).

In general, Bond villains are maniacal erudites with aim of inciting global chaos. While the broad modus operandi of the primary villain rarely wavers, their henchmen take on varying degrees of creative eccentricity. In only a few of instances during the series’ half-century run, has the villain overshadowed his caricatural henchmen — especially during Roger Moore’s tenure as James Bond, when producers became increasingly more inventive, freed from the creative restrictions of Ian Fleming’s original texts. There’s nothing inherently entertaining about rote hyper-intellectualism (Moonraker‘s Drax proves to be the most notable exception); therefore, the henchmen, as the front line of defense against James Bond, become the means by which the series innovates villainy.

Bond must overcome both intellectual and physical obstacles. The henchmen function not only as an immediate menace and physical threat to 007, but also the ways by which the series differentiates between base coat primary villains in the traditional Bond formula. Case in point: if someone asks you to rank your 10 Favorite Bond villains, how many on your list are primary villains and how many are henchmen?

 

Jaws’ Popularity Paradox

Jaws proved to be so big and so bad that Cubby Broccoli rewrote the end of The Spy Who Loved Me to allow Jaws to return in a future entry. Originally, Richard Kiel’s 7’ 2” Jaws was to have drowned at the end of that film; instead Jaws pops up from the ocean, untarnished, and keeps swimming. Roger Moore remembers vividly that the audience at the premiere of The Spy Who Loved Me cheered when Jaws rose up from the water. He said, “That raised a round of applause… especially from the youngsters.”

jaws - the spy who loved me

Jaws (Richard Kiel) confronts Agent XXX (Barbara Bach) in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Obviously, nobody in the audience would have wished for the demise of James Bond, but the notion that this spectacular adversary would live to fight Bond another day excited moviegoers. He had been Bond’s combative equal. Though Bond had won the day, he could not best Jaws. Due to Cubby’s tremendous foresight regarding Jaws’ potential popularity, The Spy Who Loved Me provided the opportunity for a return trip, but it also created a logistical problem for the James Bond creative team.

Jaws could not become a permanent fixture, yet The Spy Who Loved Me and the first half of Moonraker had suggested Bond could never ultimately defeat him. (He fell 10,000 feet into a circus tent and walked away!) They also didn’t want Jaws to meet his demise at the hands of Bond. The “youngsters” would certainly be disappointed. As a result, Moonraker employs an infamous shift in character — Jaws not only turns against Drax, his boss, in order to help James Bond but he does so for the love of a bespectacled girl in pigtails. For the record: she doesn’t have braces.

Jaws and his new love in Moonraker

For many Bond fans, this 180-degree shift in character from indomitable villain — to gooey love muffin became an unforgivable offense. Undermining the character of Jaws in this manner was like making Darth Vader retire from the Empire in order to join the ASPCA. When audiences cheered for Jaws’ survival, they could not have imagined this particular outcome. Most Bond fans ameliorate this disappointment by treating the Jaws of The Spy Who Loved Me and the Jaws of Moonraker as two different characters. How else can one assimilate unconscionable evildoing and towering slapstick clowning into the same character?

Jaws Lives On

For better and worse, the Bond franchise has been a slave to popular opinion since its rise to blockbuster status. Moonraker stands as a testament to the dark underbelly of writing and creating cinema based purely on anticipated audience demand. Bond producers wanted to capitalize on the Star Wars phenomenon. Hence Bond in space. Likewise, Bringing Jaws back in Moonraker strictly for the fans, rather than letting him swim off into the sunset, created a no-win scenario. Unless you discuss Jaws with the children of 1979.

Criticizing Moonraker or Moonraker‘s rebranding of Jaws perpetuates a prosaic argument. Accepting the film as an exercise in testing the outer boundaries of the Bond formula, however, becomes rather liberating. The murderous henchman named Jaws remained in the world of The Spy Who Loved Me — the baddie that carries out executions without remorse, the towering, immovable mass of humanity that easily could have been the end of James Bond. But as we well know that’s not quite the end of the Jaws story.

One of the most certifiably bonkers moments in all of James Bond. The murderous giant rushes to embrace the love of his life.

Jaws utters his one sentence at the end of Moonraker. When he says to his new girlfriend, “Well, here’s to us,” we’ve witnessed the complete dismantling of James Bond’s indomitable foe. James Bond would certainly approve that Jaws had given up the chase for a girl. However false this outcome feels to the objective viewer, it falls in line with the Moonraker carnival of absurdities.

Moonraker was made, in part, for those kids that cheered Jaws’ survival. While it’s easy to dismiss the value of such absurd escapism, it’s much harder as a cynical adult to embrace the wide-eyed optimism where anything becomes possible — where a beloved but murderous assassin falls in love, gets the girl and helps Bond saves the day. As a result, Jaws accepted a certain duality that made him both terrible and lovable. Richard Kiel’s character endures now more viscerally because Jaws has become both classic villain and lasting childhood nostalgia.

Jaws - Great Villain Blogathon 2017

#HoorayForBond_age_! A Personal and Oral History of #Bond_age_

The Spy Who Loved Me - Roger Moore and Barbara Bach

#HoorayForBond_age_! – A Personal And Oral History of #Bond_age_

by Krissy Myers

I’ve decided to entitle my love letter to an awkward as hell hashtag with one that is equally unusual. A tag that is perhaps somewhat indecipherable by anyone that has never joined me in a #Bond_age_ livetweet. Allow me to explain.

When I first discovered #Bond_age_, it was in its infancy. Jay Patrick was still using tumblr to post his essays. Being in the throws of my initial rekindling of my love for all things Bond, Tumblr was (and still is) the natural habitat for the fan that wished to go from the realm of casual interest into the territory of the true obsessive. I was ready. I was RIPE. Jay wrote his essays with a certain level of literacy that was lacking in most articles about Bond outside of conventional sources for film critique. When I discovered that Jay was hosting a livetweet for my favourite Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, also known around these parts as #TSWLM, I decided to join.

I was welcomed immediately and warmly. Jay was a great host and the other tweeters were smart and funny. They had clearly been familiar with my favourite television series, Mystery Science Theater 3000. I had found my people. During my first livetweet, I decided to coin my own hashtag: #HoorayForSexism. It was to annotate my own observations about the light-hearted and casual misogyny in an equally nonchalant way. At the time, my tweets probably seemed casual, too, but I must admit that it was also a bit of a litmus test.

Even though plenty of ladies were to be found in Bond movies, women in the fandom that celebrates all things 007 were (and still are) uncommon. Mainly due to the misogyny I (a woman) was mocking. Yet, rather than be ostracized and labeled as an uptight feminazi I’m sure I would have been in other circles, my lighthearted riffing was not only embraced, but encouraged.

This was the quality, above all else, that made #Bond_age_ stand out to me as a community. My contributions were taken seriously. It was the first time I felt that I had found a space where I could be blunt and honest about my opinions on not just Bond, but on any film. #HoorayForSexism became one of the very first #bond_age_ memes. It became as much a part of our vernacular as “the peppers,” #PartyMoore and #pewpewpew that was born in #Moonraker a week later. It was the dawn of #Bond_age_ as it’s known today. The fact that there was an entire podcast dedicated to #Bond_age_ memes alone speaks volumes about its effectiveness as a community and the subcultural aspects that naturally evolved due to dedicated member involvement. We were the goth kids, the punk rockers, the ravers and v a p o r w a v e r s of Bond fandom at large.

Naturally, with #Bond_age_ Grand Poobah Jay being a savvy sort, these memes started to permeate his original series of essays for all of the Bond films. The tweets started to shape the meatier and more intellectual content of #Bond_age_. Like all good comedy, the jokes lent themselves to the genesis of a greater conversation. The “My Favourite #Bond_age_” Series was born and regular #Bond_age_ tweeters were promoted to essayists, myself included. Being the High Priestess of all things Roger Moore, I wrote two pro-Party Moore articles for the series – one for my previously mentioned favourite #TSWLM and one for For Your Eyes Only, aka #FYEO. Each of the writers got to host (or co-host) their own livetweet for each film they wrote for. Then once #Bond_age_Pod came into production, myself and others took the lead in conversation more often than not. #Bond_age_TV content has very little content and input from Jay at all, especially my own spinoff series for The Prisoner. The fact that Jay allowed other members of #Bond_age_ to have their stage time was really telling. Like all good leaders, he knew when to step back and let others take charge and speak their mind.

On a personal level, writing those two My Favourite #Bond_age_ essays (along with my article on Patrick McGoohan and Danger Man) was extremely gratifying to me, as they were the first serious pieces of film writing I’d penned since film school. It gave me a new outlet for others — Bond fan, Prisoner fan and layperson alike — to see my writing. Other people, other WOMEN in particular, became interested in the spy genre because #Bond_age_ provided me with a satellite to transmit my passion. It fostered growth, confidence and even job opportunities and professional networking in my personal life. That’s right, I’ve made ACTUAL MONEY because of #Bond_age_.

Most importantly, though, #Bond_age_ has enriched and forged friendships new and old. If it weren’t for my discovery of #Bond_age_, I would have never met or befriended people like #Bond_age_TV cohort Greg McCambley, the other wonderful #Bond_age_ regulars, Aaron Reynolds of Bat Labels and Swear Trek and countless other people known in the Comic Book and Entertainment industries. These relationships have played an integral part in my development as an individual and made my life better.

But most important of all, I must extend my most sincere thanks to Jay Patrick. In the four years I’ve had the pleasure of your online acquaintance, you have been something of brother to me. Words cannot express how much I owe to you and your project. Thank you for always being there for me when I needed someone to talk to. Thank you for always taking me seriously. It means a lot to me as a woman and as a person. If we ever get a chance to meet in person, please don’t be surprised if I hug you so tightly you pass out.

Thank you for everything and #HoorayForBond_age_!

Love,
Krissy Myers
(#HoorayForSexism Expert)

#Bond_age_versary 4 – The SPECTRE Live Tweet

#Bond_age_ 4th anniversary

 

#Bond_age_ turns 4! It’s the #Bond_age_versary!

To celebrate the special occasion we’re finally live tweeting Spectre! 

I know that probably seems counterintuitive considering my opinions about the film. After all, they’ve been well documented here and here and here and here. One official #Bond_age_ essay, a review, and two podcasts. That’s a whole lot of anti-Spectre material I’ve put out into the world. And that’s not even counting my anti-Sam Smith maniacal ravings. In a way, Spectre‘s been a gift to #Bond_age_. That “way” is backwards and convoluted and only makes sense in the world of online riffing, but it’s true. We’d become complacent here at #Bond_age_.

The Craig era has offered us — and opinions will differ, of course — one truly great and two solid entries into the 24-film canon. Even if you’re in an anti-Craig, Quantum, or Skyfall camp, you have to admit that there’s very little truly great fodder in that film for mockery or bemusement.  There’s certainly no “These bubbles tickle my Tchaikovsky!” moments. This brings us to Spectre, a veritable cornucopia of missteps and narrative stupidity. Some may have been entertained, but entertained or not, I charge you with pointing out the film’s flaws and admitting to the world that shooting down a helicopter with a pee-shooter pistol from a speedboat is dumb. It’s just dumb!

I love to hate Spectre. And now we all get the chance to spew our affection and/or #facepalm and/or hatred onto the Interwebs with reckless abandon. I return to the notion that Spectre is a gift, not a curse. Though, perhaps it is both.

The last couple months at #Bond_age_ have brought our little live tweet organization some hardships. The #Bond_age_ family has had its share of loss and disappointment in 2016. As a result of some of these life interruptions and challenges, we’ve dropped from three hosts to one. The hosting duties have fallen squarely on me… and there have been some unfortunate gaps in programming as I’ve tried to keep up.

So that brings me to the heart-to-heart portion of this post. After #Bond_age_versary 4, I’ve considered hanging up the #Bond_age_ tuxedo. I pour so much of my time into this particular endeavor that many other things have suffered. In 2012, I fancied #Bond_age_ a brief 23-week respite from my then labored fiction-writing process. I’d worked on a novel for a year and I felt angry and frustrated.

The #Bond_age_ exercise turned into a 100,000 word manuscript and 200+ weeks later, here we are. We’ve live tweeted all Bond films at least three times (except Spectre, of course). 40+ Bond imposters. Selections from many of our favorite TV shows including The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Remington Steele and The Avengers. The entire series of The Prisoner. Plus some odds and ends. I don’t know if this counts as an “accomplishment” per say, but it feels like something.

#Bond_age_ has forged many new friendships — many of which extend beyond the realm of the online sphere. I’m grateful for each and every person that’s contributed to #Bond_age_ through live tweets and My Favorite #Bond_age_ writeups and even offhand conversations on Twitter. #Bond_age_ is #Bond_age_ because of you. I just keep the lights on.

Quite honestly, I don’t know what 2017 will bring for #Bond_age_. This year has been so disheartening on so many levels, personally and professionally. Over the next few weeks I’ll figure out the place James Bond and #Bond_age_ will have in our lives in 2017, but for right now I want to focus on this celebratory, commemorative, happy-time occasion. #Bond_age_ turns 4. That’s reason to celebrate and enjoy the moment…

…with the live tweet of Spectre, for all the goddamn marbles.

 

spectre live tweet

 

We live tweet SPECTRE, on Wednesday December 7th @ 9pm ET. Follow #Bond_age_ hashtag.

 

The Vesper Martini: Casino Royale

casino royale vesper

 

“A dry martini,” [Bond] 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 drink 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.”

—Ian Fleming, Casino Royale, Chapter 7, “Rouge et Noir’

 

Later in the novel, after Bond first meets Vesper, he asks to borrow the name. And thus the Vesper martini was born in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale. But before you run off to make the perfect Vesper for your Casino Royale 10th Anniversary parties, let’s dwell on some details. Preferably details that will make you sound incredibly snobbish at gatherings, am I right?

Fleming’s friend Ivar Bryce first concocted the recipe for the Vesper martini in the early 1950’s. Since then, however, the ingredients are no longer Bryce’s.  If you search for the recipe, you’ll note many variations of the drink. I’ve collected a dozen slightly different variations on the original — and yes, I’ve made and tried them all.

 

Ian Fleming Casino Royale

 

Let’s start with the basics as detailed by Fleming.

The Vesper Martini (from Casino Royale):

 

3oz Gordon’s gin

1oz vodka

1/2oz Kina Lillet

 

Shake all ingredients. Strain into a martini glass and add a lemon twist.


 

Gordon’s gin is not Gordon’s gin. North American Gordon’s is mixing gin, sold by the barrel. It tastes accordingly like swill. Even the superior British Gordon’s has been reformulated to 75 proof from the original 94.6. (A 94.6 proof Gordon’s Export gin exists out there in the wild, but I’ve not yet had the pleasure of procuring a bottle for Vesper sampling.)

Likewise, the vodka Fleming would have used was 100-proof, whereas the vodka currently in your cabinet is likely a 90. Though, this is merely a note for obsessives or people who want to find themselves under the table a little faster. But there is a reason for the high alcohol content of the drink. The shaking produces a greater dilution. If you find yourself with lower proof vodka, dare I say, you might consider stirring your Vesper — which would actually more align with Bond’s stated wish for a drink that is cold. Stirring actually creates the colder drink.

Now the main reason for so many modern Vesper martini variations. Kina Lillet removed quinine from the drink in 1986 and became merely Lillet or Lillet Blanc. The Lillet sold in stores today is most definitely not a straight substitute for Fleming’s Kina Lillet. Modern Lillet is sweeter and doesn’t have enough bite to rise above 3 measures of gin. It never stood a chance.

 

casino royale vesper martini

 

All that said, here’s my current preferred formulation, including liquors of choice.

007hertzrumble’s Vesper Martini:

 

2.5oz gin (Tanqueray 10)

1.0oz vodka (Stoli Blue label – 100 proof)

1/2oz Cocchi Americano

splash of lemon juice or even Lillet (each balanced the drink in different ways)

 

Shake all ingredients. Strain into a martini glass and add a lemon twist.


 

My preferred gin for martinis has become Tanqueray 10. I find it smoother than the other regular, commercially available gins. Don’t get fancy with your gin in this drink. Find your martini standard and stick with it. For vodka authenticity I stick with the 100-proof Stoli Blue label, but you probably won’t notice the difference between 90 and 100 unless you’re sipping side-by-side.

Replace the extinct Kina Lillet with Cocchi Americano, an Italian apertif wine that contains quinine. In case you’re concerned about never actually finishing that bottle of Cocchi Americano, look up the recipe for a Corpse Reviver #2. You’ll finish the bottle. (You can also try Lillet with two drops of bitters as a substitute, but I wasn’t fond of the bitters and Lillet combo.)

About that splash of lemon juice/Lillet. I hate to say this, but after trying to perfect the Vesper recipe over the last couple years, I’ve concluded that the Vesper is a challenging beverage. And by challenging, I mean it’s quite abrasive. And perhaps this is for the best because more than two of these and you’ll be buggered. The splash of lemon or Lillet sweetens the package just enough. Too much, however, and the drink tastes really confused. It’s a fine line between perfection and a straight up kerfuffle.

For a sweeter version, remove the Cocchi and just add 2/3oz of Lillet and the splash of lemon to give the flavor a fighting chance. Adjust as necessary.

 

Daniel Craig sipping a martini in Casino Royale

 

Still, despite the barriers to entry, I’ve come to enjoy these martini half-breeds. Partly because I’m a Bond enthusiast and partly because I find the perfect Vesper slightly elusive. I’ve made a few great ones at home and had one perfect Vesper martini at a French restaurant — which swapped the gin and vodka ratios (3:1 vodka to gin) and used extra Lillet… which I’ve also attempted at home.

 

Here’s my best attempt at the inversion.

007herzrumble’s Inverted Vesper martini:

 

3oz vodka (Belvedere or Grey Goose)

1oz gin (Tanqueray 10)

2/3oz Lillet

 

 

Stir (blasphemy!) — no really, stir — all ingredients in the shaker. Strain into a martini glass and add a lemon twist.


 

A personal warning — never — never ever ever ever drink more than 2 Vespers of any variety. If you need a refresher about how to make a standard, straight up dry martini, here’s a YouTube video that uses my preferred recipe with a bunch of guys who are mostly less annoying that most YouTube bartenders.

 

 

Cheers.

 

 

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