“If there has ever been a cocktail that’s about international affairs, it would be the Vesper, which is the cocktail that was invented for Ian Fleming prior to the publication of Casino Royale in 1953. (Its namesake, Vesper Lynd, is a colleague of James Bond’s at M16, and, we eventually learn, a Russian double agent.) The Vesper is just one of a set of cocktails that are variations on martinis—and no drink is more associated with foreign policy than martinis. You have the Gibson martini (substitute the olive for a pickled cocktail onion) and the Buckeye (garnish with a black olive), but the radical aspect of the Vesper is that there’s a combination of vodka and gin—so, the spirit of England versus the spirit of Russia. There’s a tension there between East and West. For this drink I was trying to imagine deeper...

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