The Hooch Life

Vodka Martinis Worthy of 007

Bond had a good idea when he ordered a Vodka Martini, but these cocktails take “suave” to a whole new level.

“Vodka Martini, shaken, not stirred.” Famous drinking words. Who out there hasn’t delivered his own muddled Bond impersonation while holding up that inverted, crystalline pyramid that HL Menken referred to as “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet”? For most of us, that’s because drinking a martini is about the only James Bond stunt we can pull off, too. Similarly, it is the recognition of these very limitations that sends many of us back to practice our Bond impersonations twice a day, generally a little after six o’clock. But even a Martini can’t heal everything, especially a Vodka Martini. For as old as the Bond franchise itself, a persistent argument has been fought over Mr. Bond’s order — what the pun-loving 007 might call a spirited debate.

When it comes to the correct way to enjoy a Martini, the loudest and fiercest camp tends to be the gin drinkers. The gin traditionalists simply find the term Vodka Martini an oxymoron. The more conciliatory pundits have grown to accept the existence of Vodka Martinis, but still they like to point to the Ian Fleming novels to prove Bond is also a frequent drinker of Gin Martinis.

But you don’t see Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan drinking gin. They are vodka men, and don’t they look cool doing it? Ever since James Bond created the Vesper — a Martini made with gin and vodka — in Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel Casino Royale, the floodgates opened, and vodka began to pour into the hearts of American drinkers.

Lastly, there are those who stand a little above the gin-or-vodka fray, less concerned with Bond’s spirit of choice, but who strongly believe that shaking is no way to treat a few innocent ounces of one’s beloved Martini.

One thing is clear: people like Vodka Martinis, and they are here to stay. Fortunately for you, vodka cocktails have come a long way since Bond first uttered the famous “shaken, not stirred” line. Joshua Smith, a bartender at TAG RAW BAR in Denver and a gin traditionalist himself, has bravely crossed the line into vodka territory to offer us some fantastic vodka cocktails. We’re confident that if Bond could do it all over again, he would have ordered one of these Martinis instead.

Serrano Martini

This cocktail was created by chef Julian Serrano of the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas – a fitting scene for Bond. This cocktail wouldn’t be amiss on one of James’ trips to the Amalfi Coast.

1-1/2 parts Vodka
1/2 part Campari
1/2 part Toschi Limoncello
1-1/2 parts Fresh Orange Juice

Double down by dusting the glass with Martini and Rossi Sweet Vermouth. Shaken, not stirred. Garnish with lime twist.

Sevens and Elevens

Yet another casino Martini for the man with exceptional taste.

1-1/2 parts Vodka
1 part Domaine de Canton Ginger Cognac
1/2 part Lillet Rouge
1/2 part Fresh Lime Juice

Shake those dice hard, and let ‘em roll into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf, but wake it up first with a little spank on its backside.

Joy Ride

1-1/2 parts Citrus Vodka
3/4 part Aperol
3/4 part Dry White Sherry
1/2 part Lemon Sour
1/2 part Egg White

Dry shake to excite the acid and egg. Then add ice, and shake it down to extract the information you’re looking for. Serve this cocktail in a chilled coupe glass preferably because 007 prefers his Joy Rides in a coupe. But if not available, take the top down, and serve it in a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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