Force of repetition has made James Bond synonymous with a terrible martini (despite the Heineken marketing department’s best efforts to re-brand 007 as a lager chugger) but his true drink is the vesper.
Invented by Ian Fleming – and ordered by Bond in Casino Royale – it’s as punchy as you’d expect from a man who puts away around 92 units a week, with three slugs of gin, one of vodka and a dash of Kina Lillet, a bitter aperitif wine. Plus a lemon slice, to make sure James gets his five-a-day.
It’s a cocktail that Bond only orders once, perhaps aware that starting his night at such a pace means he’ll be in bed long before the baddie escapes with the girl. Because though 007 sinks enough booze to float the Navy, it’s generally a way to kill time between conquests of a less martial nature. Our working theory is that, for all his apparent panache, James Bond is actually a wallflower who needs a stiffener – or five – before he can approach the fairer sex.
It’s a technique that’s patently successful. But seeing as they don’t dole out new livers at A&E, not one with much longevity. So, a more sensible approach would be to reach for another Vesper, namely the new fragrance from Barcelona’s storied fashion boutique, Santa Eulalia. The store has been one of the city’s best since 1843, at times in its history offering everything from haute couture to tailoring and a jaw- and wallet-dropping array of luxury labels.
In 2014, Santa Eulalia debuted its perfumery, with a quartet of unisex scents that represent the moods of the Catalan capital (although which of the four emulates disbelief at the price of a cocktail on Las Ramblas, we’re not sure). Now, to bolster its arsenal, comes Vesper, designed for romantic strolls across Barcelona’s cobbles. Although we sure it’s just as effective when your date’s not holding your hand, but your waist, as you barrel through its markets on the back of a stolen motorbike.
Unfortunately for Bond, Vesper doesn’t include his go-to scents of gunpowder and rubbing alcohol. But fortunately for whoever he’s with, it blooms through a host of sensual, almost exotic notes, without ever becoming a trip down a spice rack.
Its opening is bright, with cypress and star anise blooming like the sun across the Mediterranean. But it quickly settles down, with sandal- and cedarwood notes a bed for Middle Eastern myrrh and coffee. It’s the dry down that’s most rewarding, though – a sweet but slightly musty mix of those woods with cistus and vanilla. And you can indulge in a second spray, without any concerns for your liver.
Available from Avery Perfume Gallery, priced £98 for 75ml of eau de parfum.
Bottle: A glass, rectangular flavon, prettied up with gold piping
Head notes: Cypress, star anise, figolide;
Heart notes: Myrrh, labdanum, coffee, guaiac, sandalwood;
Base notes: Cedarwood, benzoin, cistus, vanilla.
Best for: International espionage. Or, at least, pretending.