The Skyfall Martini: How to Make Bond’s Signature Mix
It’s 11 a.m., I’ve already been awake for nearly six hours, and the combination of not enough sleep, a slight hangover, and the dry atmosphere, recycled one time too many through the aircon system of the train I’m on, is beginning to get to me.
Fortunately help is at hand, in the form of Eric Lorincz, head barman at London’s Savoy Hotel, World Champion mixologist, and cocktail consultant to the producers of Skyfall. Dressed in a tux, and always ready for action, he’s the very best at what he does: the James Bond of barmen.
While it would be fun to keep up the pretence that this perfectly-timed meeting is the result of my high-flying lifestyle, I’d be lying. Sadly, the wage of an entertainment reporter doesn’t stretch to anything anywhere near that glamorous. Instead, I’m talking to the man who will make the best drink I’ve ever consumed, as we both travel from London, England to Edinburgh in Scotland, in the surreal comfort of a British commuter train specially chartered to promote the home entertainment release of Bond’s 23rd outing.
Still, while there is some degree of artifice (I don’t recall ever seeing a bar on a train in the UK before), Eric, his astonishingly shiny collection of cocktail mixing tools, and his bottles of booze are all very real, and that’s enough for me.
He begins making the only drink available at his Bond-branded bar, the Skyfall Martini, by measuring out a shot of Turkish herbal syrup into a gold–plated cocktail jigger, “I love Bond,” he explains, as he ‘balances the flavour’ with a slug of Japanese yuzu juice, a citrus flavoured drink that’s startlingly orange, and smells of mandarin and grapefruit. “Especially after being at the actual filming.”
In addition to being invited to the set to give the production team tips on the sort of drink an international secret agent might consume, Eric created the Skyfall Martini, a play on the Bond’s signature vespa cocktail, for the film’s world premiere in London.
“Instead of Kina Lillet, as it’s already out of production,” Eric says this, as he pours yet another generous measure of liquor into the shaker. “I use different aperitif wine, Cocchi Americano, adding more flavour.”
Eric bringing up Kina Lillet is a particularly sore point for me. I consider myself something of a martini aficionado, and I’ve long hoped to try a classic vespa, as invented by Ian Fleming for Casino Royale. Ordered by Daniel Craig’s Bond in the 2003 film adaptation, it consists of “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."
Unfortunately, while Bond has remained popular in the 60 years since the drink was dreamed up, Kina Lillet hasn’t. The recipe changed several times over the years, and it hasn’t been produced since 1986, when it was discontinued and replaced by Lillet Blanc.
It’s even more galling when Eric reveals he owns a bottle of Kina Lillet, produced in 1953; the very year James Bond was introduced to the world. The words slip out of my mouth before I even realise, hoping against hope. “With you?” I asked.
"Back at the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel,” Eric answered.
The disappointment is palpable. Then, a thought: I do, after all, live in London, and while the Savoy Bar may be expensive, isn’t exactly far to travel. Unfortunately, that pipe dream is completely dashed, when Eric later reveals that his bottle of Kina, containing enough of the precious liquid for around 60 servings, is valued at more than $3,000. Over $50 for a cocktail is well out of my price range.
As Eric shatters my dreams, he fills the shaker with two more good slugs of spirit, first Tanqeray No. Ten gin, then Kettle One vodka, before filling the container with lumps of ice and closing it up. It’s only at this point, while Eric runs through the list of ingredients once again, that I twig, and inelegantly blurt out, “So you’ve got Chinese stuff and Turkish stuff, is that in honour of the locations in the film?”
“That’s correct,” Eric responds, kindly ignoring my lack of descriptive skill.
With the capsule firmly shut, Eric picks it up and gives it a shake, quipping “shaken not stirred” for good measure. I ask what difference it makes, and he explains, “Once you shake your cocktail, you make it much colder, but you dilute it much more. Than if you stir it.”
This point is perfectly illustrated when, as he shakes it, the polished metal of the container fogs up with condensation. It lends the whole process an air of theatre, and drives home just how keenly I’m anticipating this drink.
He takes a glass, places it on the counter and strains the chilled cocktail into it, before finishing off with a huge lump of ice. As we both take a moment to admire his masterpiece, my mind goes back to the classic vespa, and Eric’s bottle of Kina Lillet.
“What happens when you run out?” I ask. “I will just have the good memories,” he laments.
With that thought heavy in the air, I take my first sip of the Skyfall Martini. It’s cold, and sharp, but as it warms slightly in my mouth, the tart, fruity flavours of the Yuzu and plum comes through. Suddenly, all thoughts of the vespa have gone from my mind, the only thing I want to drink from now until the day I die are Skyfall Martinis.
Unfortunately, as I pointed out at the start of this article, the whole event was just a press trip, a short-term charade. As such, we were limited to a single Skyfall Martini. Still, at least I have the good memories.
If you can afford to live the high life, the Skyfall Martini is available in the American Bar of London’s Savoy Hotel. If you can’t make it, you can create a pretty close approximation of the drink by combining 25ml Ketel One vodka, 25ml Tanqueray No. Ten gin, 15ml Cocchi Americano, 15ml lemon juice, 15ml sugar syrup, 10ml plum wine, 10ml Yuzu and shaking it all over ice.
Skyfall is out on BluRay and DVD now.