Tonight, Make it a Vesper

Today is a special day in the Christian calendar. It is the last time in our lives when the traditional Feast of the Ascension, which occurs forty days after Easter, falls on May 5; we will not see another alignment like this again until A.D. 2157. This calls for a drink! In Christian art and folklore, the Ascension is associated with open gates (as in the Gate of Heaven), a lion defeating a dragon (the devil knew he was defeated when he saw Heaven open to mankind for the first time), and flying fowl (which imitate Our Lord’s ascent into a cloud). Stretch your imagination tonight and have any drink named after gates, a lion, a dragon, or a bird. Or perhaps try a drink with an ingredient named after one of these things. Let’s see: Greygoose, Famous Grouse, Wild Turkey…

But since May 5 is also the Feast of Pope St. Pius V, you can simplify matters with a Vesper Martini. Invented by a friend of Ian Fleming and named after a character in one of his James Bond novels, it (unintentionally) recalls a Vespers hymn that the holy pontiff was reciting when he met his eternal reward. Below is the original recipe as it first appeared in Fleming’s work, with some of our editorial additions.

Vesper Martini
1½ oz. (3 measures) Gordon’s gin
½ oz. (1 measure) vodka
¼ oz. (1½ tsp. or half a measure) Kina Lillet (or any white Lillet you can find)
1 large thin slice of lemon peel
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a champagne coupe and garnish with lemon.


Whatever the drink, you can still use an Ascension Day toast for the occasion: “God is ascended with jubilee, alleluia! And the Lord with the sound of the trumpet, alleluia!”