Vespertine: being nocturnal or nightly; a popular album by Bjork; a drink created by author Ian Fleming in his first James Bond novel, “Casino Royale”; my favorite new cocktail at The Chameleon Café in Lauraville.
When it comes to mixing up a quality drink, Chameleon's general manager — and self-proclaimed cocktail nerd — Matt Weaver means serious business. The drink list, created by Weaver just eight months ago, is an impressive tribute to Prohibition-era libations with a twist, or as Weaver says, “classic cocktails with character.”
Take the Vespertine, a clever spin on the Bond martini. “Originally, the drink was made with quinine, which made the [original cocktail] Vesper very distinct. Today you can't use quinine …but I wanted to pay tribute, as well as draw upon inspiration from my own life.” Vespertine is one of Weaver's favorite albums. The result is a darkly whimsical amalgamation of Bond and Bjork: smooth, mysterious and inventive.
Bulldog, a distinctive citrus-infused Gin, is blended with the delicate hazelnut taste of Smooth Ambler vodka, a play upon the original Vesper combination. To this, Weaver adds Lillet Blanc and amaro, which mocks the bittersweet quinine of the classic version, while delivering a caramel undertone that adds a sweet finish to this modern interpretation.
I love a cocktail that lives up to its back story — and trust me, every drink at The Chameleon has one. But the Vespertine? As cool and as classic as they come. Shaken, not stirred, of course.
How to Make a Vespertine
2 measures Bulldog gin
1 measure Smooth Ambler vodka
1/2 measure Lillet Blanc
1/4 measure Ramazzotti amaro
Mix liquids with ice in a shaker over ice; shake four-five times, then strain into a martini glass; twist lemon over glass; garnish.
Where to Get It
The Chameleon Café
4341 Harford Road, Lauraville
$13Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun