The Vesper Lynd

January 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm (Aesthetics, Drugs, Espionage, Exclusive Societies, Film, Food, Law, Literature, Mixology, The Cold War, The Victorian Era, Women) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This history of mixology is riddled with dubious tales of origin, of outlandish claims made by notable barkeeps, of contradictory accounts. But one notorious cocktail (which, by the way, is technically illegal to serve in several American states due to the fact that it requires the mixing of two liquors in one beverage) about which much is known is the elusive Vesper Lynd.

As with any vintage cocktail, countless variations on this drink have been committed to text over the decades. But the original recipe, created at the Boodle’s gentlemen’s club in London in the early 1950s, is as follows:

2 ounces of Boodle’s gin (originally sold only at the exclusive club of the same name)

1 ounce of Russian vodka

½ ounce of Lillet blanc (an orange liqueur)

These ingredients are to be shaken over ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. The glass is then garnished with a lemon twist. The final product is exquisite in both flavor and appearance. The qualities of the cocktail itself, however, are eclipsed in interest by the story surrounding the drink’s popularity. One notable member of the Boodle’s club (along with historical heavyweights such as David Hume, Adam Smith, and Sir Winston Churchill) was author Ian Fleming.

The Boodle's gentlemen's club, founded in 1762, resides at 41-59 Pall Mall in London

He was so taken by the barkeep’s concoction that he featured a version of the recipe is his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Bond, in the book, claims to have created the drink, and eventually names it the Vesper. This name derived from his untrustworthy love interest, Russian spy Vesper Lynd (her name being a pun on West Berlin). The mixing of English gin and Russian vodka signified the bond between the two spies. After Bond is betrayed by Lynd, he swears off the cocktail forever.

Although the original 1967 production of Casino Royale was a satirical treatment of the novel starring Peter Sellers as Bond and Ursula Andress as Versper, it was popular enough to place the Vesper martini into the cocktail cannon.

Ursula Andress portraying the double-crossing secret agent

While many cocktails, ranging from the Mai Tai to the Churchill Martini, have excellent histories, the Vesper Lynd is, as far as I know, the only popular cocktail that was born out of the Cold War-Era tension between Capitalist and Communist alliegances.

Some Further Reading:

An interesting look at some different claims made regarding the invention of the Mai Tai

A great look at the history of various martini recipes. Note that this article describes the Vesper as a, “Vodka martini, shaken, not stirred”. This famous line was uttered by Sean Connery in his portrayal of James Bond, and results in a significantly different cocktail than Fleming’s beloved Vesper

This is a meticulously researched book containing recipes, photographs, and the histories of obscure cocktails. I highly recommend it for any mixologist

A brief look at the history of the Boodle’s club

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The Mysterious Bloop

May 11, 2009 at 7:19 pm (Cartography, Cryptozoology, Military, Nautical) (, , , , )

Anyone who has ever gazed at the expanse of the ocean and experienced a mixture of wonderment and terror will feel validated upon learning about the Bloop. This sonic phenomenon, so named due to its distinct sound (“bloop…bloop”), was first picked up via undersea microphones by the United States Navy in the summer of 1997. Instead of tracking Soviet submarines, these Cold War-era microphones detected a sound with an ultra-low frequency that suggests it a) originates from an animal, and b) that this animal is significantly larger than a blue whale (the largest creature ever known to live). Microphone triangulation has placed the origin of the Bloop off the southwestern coast of South America (50 degrees S, 100 degrees W). Listen to the Bloop here.

To give you a sense of scale.

To give you a sense of scale.

The mysterious Bloop vanished as rapidly as it appeared. The sound has not been detected since 1997, although this does little to hamper the impassioned speculations of cryptozoologists, science fictions enthusiasts, and marine biologists alike. The notion that there may lie at the bottom of the sea a beast that dwarfs, both in size and in sound-making ability, history’s largest known animals is fodder for both daydreams and nightmares. I know that I, for one, will glance compulsively and fearfully downward into the darkened depths if I ever find myself afloat off the southwestern coast of South America.

Some Further Reading:

A thread on Physics Forum that discusses the Bloop

A 2002 article about the Bloop from Cnn.com

BloopWatch.org – A site for H.P. Lovecraft fans that explores the Bloop from a science fiction perspective

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