Crème de Menthe Frappé
If one is on a yacht a simple lager beer just won't do. Elevated transportation requires elevated cocktails. And being that the Disco Volante of Thunderball fame is the finest yacht in the Caribbean one must expect the finest cocktail. But twist- how can Emilio Largo's Creme de Menthe Frappe be made in a fashion worthy of such a vessel?
Technique and brand are key.
A bottle of creme de menthe has several key indicators of quality that will guide you to the correct decision. The first of which is quite easily price, a bottle should cost the same as a base spirit, that is to say, a gin or a whisky- you'll be using it as a base spirit. The second is proof, generally speaking, higher proof indicative of less sugar which is turn offers a more honest spirit, unable to hide flaws. Finally but most crucial is the aroma, quality liqueurs has aroma whereas swill is drowned in a sugary mess from which no scent can escape.
The second and final ingredient in the frappe is crushed ice. The best way to achieve finely crushed, dry ice is to have one of your henchmen fill a canvass bag with ice and beat it with a mallet. This bag is called a lewis bag but when scaled up in size a bit, is sometimes called an "interrogation sack."
The fact is, if you find yourself of a yacht, you have likely left a trail of corpses in your literal wake. It is essential to enjoy a respite from your dirty work.
Agent, at times you will be called upon to blend in Italy. At which point, a proper start to a meal is to order the most continental of all cocktails, the Negroni. Sipping a Negroni cocktail, and appearing to enjoy it, will make you indeed seem, continental, but this will only be but one part of your cover while working in Italy. American agents, unaccustomed to the Negroni’s bitterness, what with their Squirrel Nut Zippers, Goo Goo Clusters and other confounded confections, will frown at the bitterness. You mustn’t do this. When lucky, you will receive a thin orange zest, but do not eschew the orange wedge that will sometime appear as a garnish, eat it and stay strong with it’s precious Vitamin C. Nutrition is important, you’ll recall how it helped us beat the Jerry’s back in the war. But otherwise, take great head with the details of the Negroni agent, for this potable is equal parts delicate, bitter & dangerous.
The Negroni balances 3 ingredients on the edge of a edge of a straight razor. It takes a steady hand to shave in the morning and the same care must be taken in balancing the floral gin, sweet vermouth and bitter Campari. Contrary to how you guzzle your Martinis agent, the Negroni isn’t a gin cocktail — it is an aperitvio cocktail first. And do not inquire as to which gin is being used as that is certainly the least important ingredient in a Negroni. Much more important is that the vermouth, which is wine, is fresh or stored correctly so that it has not spoiled.
While the Campari will be bitter, think not of the Negroni as a digestif. For that matter, while in Italy, be sure to say “aperitivo & degestivo.” Ordering a Negroni after a meal would be a folly tantamount to ordering schnapps before the meal. Remember your classical studies, as in the Odyssey or the Aeneid, the Three Muses are called upon for inspiration at the beginning, not the end.
Agent, while I have informed you that the Negroni is but three ingredients, gin, sweet vermouth and Campari you must also understand two important variations. While the Yanks and us British will stir our cocktails and take them “up” the continental way is to take them “on the rocks” as they say. You mustn’t make a preference otherwise or you will certainly be made. Also, while Campari as a brand was intended for the original Negroni, you will find that the family distillers all over Italy have traditional variations of red bitter aperitvos that date back long before Hogarth ever etched beer street and gin lane. You must accept the local bitter as you travel and not stress the “tourist’s need,” for the brand you know. As Pious XII would say, “when in Rome.”
Lastly, let no Negroni be complete without the proper handmade, suede will do very well, shoes. In basic oxfords, you will be spotted as a foreigner immediately.
The Negroni from Risico
"I'll have and Americano Highball, please"
Say it with confidence, color it with pride and speak the sentence as if asking for a basket of bread at a restaurant- surely it will not be a problem.
But it will be a problem.
The first cocktail that James Bond ever ordered was an Americano. This simple branded highball combines 2 simple ingredients that 99% of any European influenced bar will have: Campari and sweet vermouth. But ironically, this is a cocktail that is becoming a relic, eclipsed by its caffeinated homophone and cursed by being an endangered aperitif.
This is shameful loss to culture and dining.
Never should a wine menu be offered or a food menu read without choosing, and sipping an aperitif. The Americano, the delicate union of sweet vermouth, Campari and soda, says to onlookers, "I have all the time in the world."
Physiologically, the Americano is supposed to promote digestion are prepare the palate, such is the job of most aromatized wines. Psychologically, it is the first dip of a toe into the warm bath of something, anything, other than what you were doing before you had a refreshing Americano in front of you.
Bond tends to favor them, almost mythologically, in airport bars. Granted, these bars exist in Italy, in 1953, but this is surely a rare occurrence in America.
Don’t name a cocktail after a woman—that's the lesson here. This is an elegant aperitif cocktail that is often made with too much thought.
Often referred to as a "Vesper Martini," this is an unfortunate portmanteau tantamount to saying "kitty cat." There is a Vesper cocktail and there is a Martini, (that has fewer acceptable modifiers than you have fingers) but do not say "Vesper Martini."
The Vesper is highly branded and calls for Gordon's and Lillet— why?
This seminal cocktail from Casino Royale is casually ordered as if that is an acceptable way to create a cocktail. It might be better to inquire about rather than demand a brand, so consider how you set the tone. To address brands, Gordon’s is still above average but is amazing for the cost. In the 50’s it was 94 proof, so choose a higher proof when picking a gin now. As to “Kina Lillet,” Lillet has come out over the past few years and said that they have never changed the recipe. Brands change even if recipes don’t. Proof, extractions and especially grapes in wine (like Lillet) change. Is it lighter now? We’ll never know. However, Lillet is within a fortified wine the category called “Americano,” if you want a more firm fortified wine, try Cocchi or a half dozen others. As to the Vodka, no brand is named because Vodka would have been exotic at the time. Perhaps it would have been like calling for an armagnac brand in a modern bar.
Stir or shake, doesn’t matter. Most bartenders shake a drink like they are about to fall asleep or stir a drink like a meth addict trying to stab a grape with a spoon— that is to say, poorly. Shaking is about adding air and effervescence to a cocktail, stirring is about keeping a silky texture and both dilute about the same.
Shake hard, or stir very gently and long enough to explain the plot of your favorite movie. Chill the cocktail glass before pouring the drink. Zest the lemon over the cocktail. You’ll be fine.
What is to be said about the Old Fashioned that hasn’t been infinitely chronicled? No more need be said other than combine the 3 ingredients and Bob’s your uncle. Don’t over think it.
Spend your life perfecting it.
Step one: Chill a rocks glass. Do not pour a cold drink into a warm glass. You will be undoing all of the tedium I shall tender next.
Step two: Fill a mixing glass top the top with ice. Two points here, more ice dilutes booze less and that is why you never skimp on ice, ice is cheap, booze is costly. Even in the blitz we'd chip iceicles off out gutters to stir our Collins, Tom or otherwise.
Step three: Measure. If you don’t trust that all good cooks measure, ask a carpenter. Two parts booze to a half part sweet is more than enough. And don’t forget get the bitters. No bitters, no cocktail.
Step four: If a drink is all booze, no juice, it is stirred and not shaken. There are two exceptions, and I’m not going to tell them to you so you can know the rule before you break it.
Step five: Garnish with acidity. It is hard to determine the difference between, “ingredient,” and, “garnish,” and the Old Fashioned continues to blur that. The orange zest for the Old Fashioned must be done over the glass. The gentle mist of orange oils add acidity that lightens what is essentially a sugar mélange. Don’t believe this works? Hold that peel up to your eye and squeeze. When you are done cursing me as a bloody git, you’ll see that there’s a lot of citric acid in that peel that lends an aroma to the cocktail. You can use this to subdue and enemy agent. Add a cherry if you have something less than neon and only if it is on a cocktail pick. I suggest Luxardo or Griotine cherries.
2 parts Aged Spirits
1/2 part Simple Syrup or 1 Sugar Cube
2 dashes Aromatic Bitters
Stir/Strain/Old Fashioned glass
On ice or neat
Orange zest and cherry
Medium Dry Martini
The Medium Dry Martini requires a gin with the strength of 10 men and a vermouth as fresh as a flower shop. Gin, generally speaking, shines like an alpine glacier when above 90 proof. Vermouth, while being wine, fortified with sugar and cooked with herbs is still alive, delicate and prone to oxidation. The Medium Dry Martini relies on a vermouth that is recently opened refrigerated and treated as delicately as sushi.
The Medium Dry Martini is often accompanied by olives— this is foolish. Agent Winchester has reported that olives in a Martini are “the devil’s testicles,”but in the absence of a lemon, or upon the request of some uninformed person an olive may be used under the following steps.
The olive must be cold
The olive must be rinsed
The olive must be singular
As to the stirring of this cocktail, when a Martini is properly stirred, is to appear as if the marriage of gin and vermouth should appear as if they move in slow motion.
And finally, orange bitters, they are traditional they but decisive. Use them judiciously and quickly as to practice slipping poison into a cocktail. The intended recipient will enjoy the bitters more when unaware of their presence.
Medium Dry Martini
2 parts Gin
1 part Dry Vermouth
1 dash Orange Bitters
1 chilled and rinsed olive, if not clean and chilled, go fuck yourself
Bond is "treated" to a Black Velvet as part of a seafood dinner in Diamonds are Forever.
The Black Velvet is within the rare cocktail family known as "funereal." It originates as the funeral cocktail for Prince Albert, a mix of champagne and Guinness, that was originally served in tankards. If this sounds suspect, dubious, bitter, uncomfortable or unpleasant, it is because you keen deduction skills are advising you of the truth.
This is a bad cocktail.
But many things are bad and your job is to cope, mend and manage these things. The Black Velvet can first be helped in mitigating its size: a tankard, that is to say a British imperial pint of 22 ounces, 11 if which being Guinness ande r the remainder being champagne is a bit much to tuck into. A Black Velvet, served in a flute, a 3 ounce pour of each component, is enough of a serving for most.
Secondly, a toasty bitter Guinness cut with an austere, hollow prosecco is like having fillet of sole with claret- that's not cricket. It is rare to find a time, occasion or purpose to release demi-sec or even doux, the sweetest champagnes, but if ever the time is right, it is to battle the stout monster that is a Guinness stout. In cocktails, chocolate or conversation, balance bitter with sweet.
1 part Champagne- Doux or Demi Sec
then gently layer
1 part Guinness