The Vesper was invented by Bond author Ian Fleming, and first appeared in the novel, "Casino Royale," published in 1953. The drink is named for the double agent, and Bond's romantic interest, Vesper Lynd. Agent 007 himself provides the instructions for how to make it: "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?".
Does life imitate art, or does art imitate life? We have no idea, but we do know a tasty drink when we see one, and this cucumber-infused variation on the classic Vesper cocktail certainly fits the bill. We've used a few specific non-alcoholic spirits like Ritual Gin Alternative and Amethyst Lemon Cucumber Serrano, but you're welcome to change things up or use traditional alcoholic spirits (see the note down below for instructions on making this low alcohol).
Cucumber Vesper (Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Recipe)
Non-Alcoholic Cocktail / Low-Alcohol / Zero Proof / Mocktail
3 cucumber slices
1/4 ounce lemon simple syrup (see recipe and note below)
2 barspoons apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 ounces gin (Ritual Gin Alternative)
1 1/2 ounces Amethyst Lemon Cucumber Serrano
1/2 ounce dry vermouth (Lyre's Aperitif Dry)
5 full droppers All The Bitter Orange bitters
Muddle 3 cucumber slices in a shaker tin with the lemon simple syrup and apple cider vinegar.
Add gin, Amethyst, dry vermouth, bitters, and ice, and shake until chilled.
Fine strain through a mesh sieve into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a fresh cucumber slice.
There are few cucumber-forward gin options that will work well here: we've used Ritual Gin Alternative, but BARE Zero Proof Spirits also makes a great cucumber-infused non-alcoholic gin, and if you're drinking alcohol, Hendrick's is the obvious choice.
LEMON SIMPLE SYRUP RECIPE
Heat 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and the zest of one lemon in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Let infuse for 10 minutes, then strain and chill, and keep refrigerated. (If you don't want to make lemon simple syrup, just use regular simple syrup and a squeeze of lemon. It won't be the same, but it will come close.)
MAKE IT MINDFULLY LOW ALCOHOL
For a really low ABV drink, just replace the Lyre's non-alcoholic dry vermouth with a regular, alcoholic option. (Or, alternatively, use 1 ounce of alcoholic gin and 1.5 ounces of NA gin.)