This is a stunning cocktail that highlights the strong flavors of Bombay Sapphire East. The peppercorn is nicely complimented by the subtle bitterness of the Lillet. The particular reason why I chose to make this with east is because Bombay Sapphire excels at making a drinkable martini. The Vesper is rather close to a martini, but is somewhat diluted by the addition of the vodka. The Penn 1681 vodka* is smooth, so it makes a nice compliment and maintains the drinkability of the gin-but the East has the power to stand out still even when somewhat “watered**” down.
Overall, the Vesper is a cocktail which has grown on me. I appreciate the Lillet, and the subtle flavors it adds to it. Its not the boldest gin cocktail out there- and its origins are suspect (made up by an author, not a bartender!), but I think there’s something interesting here and Bombay Sapphire East makes for an enjoyable cocktail.
* Penn 1681 is from Philadelphia Distilling, the same people that make the excellent Bluecoat Gin.
** This isn’t to say its actually watered down. One of the criticisms is that the vodka doesn’t “add” anything to the Vesper.