The hard work in recreating classic cocktails goes beyond finding the right arm garter. Sometimes, an ingredient has changed so drastically over time, it creates a different drink.
Such is the case with The Vesper. Perhaps the outrage over Coca-Cola's reformulation in the 1980s kept the public from noticing the shift of Kina Lillet--one of The Vesper's main ingredients--to the sweeter, less bitter Lillet Blanc. Or maybe it was all that breakdancing's fault.
Lillet Blanc does taste friendlier over ice than Kina did, we admit, but it sucked the oomph out of The Vesper. Thankfully, Petaluma-based Tempus Fugit has just released Kina L'Avion d'Or ($35 for 750 ml), an aperitif replacement.
Based on a 19th-century recipe that blends wine from Italian Cortese grapes with cinchona bark, ginger and orange peel, the Kina L'Avion d'Or also includes more-unusual botanicals such as sandalwood and wormwood.
Candied citrus peel and woodsy aromas emerge from the amber-colored wine, followed by flavors of Spanish quince paste and marmalade, then an herbaceous, tingling bitterness.
Moonwalk over to K&L Wines now to rediscover what The Vesper was meant to taste like.
K&L Wines, 638 Fourth St. (at Brannan St.); 415-896-1734 or klwines.com
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