007: Bond & Golf - Shaken, not stirred
“He was a real nine,” writes Ian Fleming, referring to James Bond’s handicap in Chapter 7 of Goldfinger. “Had to be with the games he chose to play, the ten pound Nassaus with the tough cheery men who were always so anxious to stand you a couple of double kümmels after lunch.”
Given Fleming’s legendary love of the finer things in life it’s no wonder that even when writing about golf he can’t resist a reference to his other specialist subjects – drinking and gambling.
Kümmel is, of course, a totally appropriate tipple in this context – with even Wikipedia describing the caraway- seed-and-cumin concoction as “golfers’ liqueur, found in many famous golf clubs around Great Britain, such as Prestwick, Muirfield, Ganton and Royal Birkdale”. To which they could have added Bond’s favourite haunts down south.
Despite playing for rather higher stakes in their match, Goldfinger doesn’t get the chance to ply his opponent with alcohol before their game – though he certainly makes up for it that same evening.
Bond has already had a large vodka and tonic by the time he arrives at the villain’s house in Reculver where he now has two strong gin and tonics before the Moselle (Piersporter Goldtröpfchen ’53) and claret (Chateau Mouton Rothschild ’47) served at dinner.
Like most Bond villains, Goldfinger himself doesn’t drink alcohol – reeling off an impressive list of dangerous chemicals which he explains cause rather more than a hangover.
He would therefore clearly be shocked at Bond’s alcohol intake over the course of the 14 books and 22 films which extends well beyond the following selected cocktails and their often infamous ingredients. (We’ll skip the wine, on this occasion.)
Helping us with the mixology is UK ‘flairer’ extraordinare, Tony Adams, who recently beat 8,000 competitors to take the title of World Bartender Of The Year (and the $10,000 cash prize) in Las Vegas.
Tony’s tip: Three measures of vodka, a hint of dry vermouth (ratio no more than 10:1). Shake until ice cold in a Boston shaker. Strain and add a twist of lemon peel (or olive, as here, to distinguish it from The Vesper).
James Bond had supped a skinful of Vodka Martinis over the course of five previous adventures before he is quoted uttering the immortal phrase “shaken and not stirred [sic]” for the first time in Chapter 14 of Dr No.
Quite apart from the endless debate over the preparation (of what 007 actually calls a “medium Vodka dry Martini”), Bond fans have always faced a tricky decision over the precise choice of spirit. Smirnoff has been associated with the Bond films consistently since that seminal moment in Dr No, enjoying gratuitous product placement down the years right up to and including Quantum Of Solace.
Specifically, the Smirnoff Red bottle flaunted in the latest film is a suitable choice given how its 37.5% ABV (Alcohol By Volume) equates to a UK proof of 65.6 degrees – bang in the middle of “the spirits between sixty and seventy proof” referred to in Bond’s medical report in Chapter 1 of Thunderball.
Ironically, the film of Thunderball (among others) features the significantly stronger Smirnoff Blue,while in The World Is Not Enough,Valentin Zukovsky serves Piers Brosnan the more exclusive Smirnoff Black revered for its purity using the latest,most exacting method of “filtration through activated charcoal” which Bond himself discusses with Goldfinger over dinner in Chapter 11.
Despite its various international distilleries, Smirnoff’s Russian heritage presumably satisfies 007’s stipulation that his vodka should be “Polish or Russian” (Dr No, Chapter 14).This rules out (Finnish) Finlandia and (Swedish) Absolut (featured in Die Another Day and Never Say Never Again, respectively), while you’ll have trouble finding M’s favourite pre- War “Wolfschmidt from Riga” cited in Moonraker.
Meanwhile, Stolichnaya was the most exclusive imported Russian vodka available during Fleming’s era. Bond himself drinks it (albeit spiked with chloryl hydrate) in Licence To Kill and (straight from the bottle) in Sebastian Faulks’ 2008 novel, Devil May Care.
As well as in Martinis and The Vesper (see below), Bond also enjoys vodka more conventionally with tonic, often with (Angostura) bitters (as in Thunderball), while the unfortunate Milton Krest downs rather too many Bullshots (vodka and cold beef consommé) in The Hildebrand Rarity, one of the few remaining 007 titles still to be exploited.
Finally, lest we stray too much from golf, it is when ‘gulping down’ Vodka Martinis at NewYork’s 21 Club in Chapter 9 of Diamonds Are Forever that Tiffany Case rants at Bond “You and your dam golf. I thought you were going to tell that man all about the chip shot you holed in oughty-ought.”
Tony’s tip: Equal parts gin, Campari and red Cinzano. Shake with ice, strain and serve over ice cubes and a slice of lemon.
We can’t ignore the 150th anniversary of gin and tonic – given how the latter quinine-based concoction was itself first commercially produced in 1858 by a certain Erasmus Bond.
Like Ian Fleming, 007 is seriously partial to both G&T (described by the Independent as “the drink of the golf club classes”) and other gin-based cocktails. Indeed, the double gin and tonic Bond enjoys on his Jamaican hotel balcony in Chapter 4 of Dr No, when carefully cutting and squeezing the whole fresh lime before “luxuriously, letting the gin relax him”, reads like a ritual bordering on religion.
As Ben MacIntyre says in the book accompanying the current For Your Eyes Only exhibition at the ImperialWar Museum, Bond “seems to be less luxuriating in alcohol than marinating in it”. Certainly, his assertion that “I never have more than one drink before dinner” in Chapter 7 of Casino Royale is a porky of Pinnochio proportions. Even in 007 In New York (a short story that originally appeared in Fleming’s travel book Thrilling Cities) our hero has three gin-based Martinis before dining at The Plaza.
Fleming himself had a passion for these more traditional Martinis and once wrote an article for Americans visiting London in which he recommends a full six measures of gin and one of dry vermouth.
According to his notebooks (shown recently on BBC TV) Fleming appeared to favour Booth’s High & Dry. But Bond himself embraces everything from Gordon’s (Casino Royale) and American high-proof House Of Lords (Live And Let Die) to German Steinhäger (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Beefeater’s for the “Pink gin, plenty of bitters” which cues “desultory small talk on the relative merits of gin” among the assembled hoods in The Man With The Golden Gun.
Apart from The Vesper and the Tom Collins (Old Tom Gin, lemon and sugar) he dreams of in The Man With The Golden Gun, Bond orders the classic gin-based Negroni on page one of Risico (For Your Eyes Only) as part of a secret recognition ritual with Kristatos.The latter’s choice of Alexandra (vodka with cream) certainly beats a red carnation in the lapel.
While Bond specifies Gordon’s for both the Negroni and The Vesper, it should be noted that, at today’s 37.5% ABV, this particular London Dry Gin is significantly weaker than it was in Fleming’s time. Accordingly, purists might prefer the stronger (43.1%) Tanqueray that was notably ‘product-placed’ in The World Is Not Enough, or, indeed, Boodles British Gin named after Boodle’s Club of St James’s where Ian Fleming was a member.
Finally, if you swap the gin in a Negroni for soda water you get an Americano – 007’s first ever literary drink (Chapter 5 of Casino Royale) – if you don’t count the earlier orange juice and coffee. He orders it again in For Your Eyes Only when famously remarking on the Perrier “expensive soda water is the cheapest way to improve a poor drink”.
GIN,VODKA & LILLET
007’s tip: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large slice of lemon peel. Got it?” (Casino Royale, Ch. 7)
Because of its spotlighted film appearances in both Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, and the longstanding controversy surrounding its ingredients,The Vesper has become almost as famous as the Vodka Martini among 007 fans.
Yet Fleming only mentions it in the debut 1953 adventure when 007 describes it as “a special Martini” before giving the barman the above very precise instructions over its preparation.
The Vesper soon caught the attention of various sybaritic commentators – most notably Kingsley Amis who claimed in The Book Of Bond (1965) that Fleming “slipped up” as Kina Lillet is, rather than a vermouth, a wine apéritif “flavoured with quinine and would be very nasty in a Martini”.
In his follow up, The James Bond Dossier, Amis added that “to find such confusion deep inside Fleming territory is oddly disconcerting”, while in James Bond: The Man And His World (2005), Henry Chancellor suggests “one presumes Fleming knew this but it is possible he just liked the name and may never have tasted James Bond’s invention”.
There’s just one problem.The Lillet company of Podensac, near Bordeaux, stopped making Kina (named after the quinquina bark of the South American evergreen Cinchona tree from which the anti-malaria quinine derives) at least two decades ago. Yet that hasn’t stopped it being name-checked in the last two Bond films and a recent Mail On Sunday interview with Daniel Craig.
Indeed Quantum Of Solace deliberately has a dig at the anoraks by having Craig uncharacteristically enquire what he is drinking, before Felix Leiter advises the barman of the correct pronunciation of “Lee-lay”.
With even Vesper herself (Eva Green) remarking on the “bitter aftertaste” in the previous film, Bond barmen are surely not substituting the current Lillet Blanc: a much fruitier and sweeter reformulation far removed from both the original Kina and 007’s original literary stipulation that the drink should be “dry”.
While Lillet Blanc is, understandably, suggested for most modern interpretations of The Vesper, those attempting to recreate the original could experiment with Cocchi Aperitivo Americano (recommended by cocktail blogger Underhill Lounge precisely for its bitter quinine aftertaste); while others may be prefer to stick with a conventional dry vermouth.
Martini & Rossi Extra Dry (Live And Let Die), Cinzano Dry (Thunderball film) and Noilly Prat (You Only Live Twice film) are the suggested choices – given that you can no longer find the Californian Cresta Blanca that Bond, in Chapter 8 of Diamonds Are Forever, regards as the “best Vermouth I ever tasted”.
WHISKEY & WHISKY
Tony’s tip: Dissolve a level teaspoon of castor sugar in a minimum quantity of boiling water, Add a large measure of bourbon whiskey, three dashes of Angostura bitters and a squeeze of fresh orange juice. Mix, pour over ice, garnish with a slice of orange and Maraschino cherry.
Bond actually drinks twice as much whiskey and whisky of various types as he does vodka on his adventures, probably a reflection of Ian Fleming’s own switch to bourbon when advised to cut down on his bottle of gin a day.
The author’s choice was the cult Kentucky brand, Old Grand-Dad which 007 himself savours on the US legs of Live And Let Die and Diamonds Are Forever. Elsewhere in the books he enjoys Walker’s De Luxe (The Man With The Golden Gun) and, in the alcoholic haze that is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, both I.W. Harper and Jack Daniel’s.
Bond, naturally, would know that the latter is technically a Tennessee ‘Sour Mash’, which refers to fermenting the maize, rye and barley malt mix with a previously fermented batch rather than the fresh yeast of a ‘straight’ bourbon. It’s just a surprise he doesn’t specify premium ‘Bottled in Bond’ bourbon, with a 50% alcohol level rather then the usual 43%.
He’d also know that Virginia Gentleman (drunk by Vivienne in The Spy Who Loved Me, is a true bourbon despite hailing from beyond Bourbon county, Kentucky.
The definitive Bond bourbon cocktail is the Old-Fashioned, described above, which he orders in Live And Let Die and Thunderball, closely followed by the Mint Juleps (bourbon, fresh mint, sugar and water) served up by the tee-total Goldfinger.
Special mention, too, for the Sazerac (Rye whisky – probably Canadian Club, Absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters, sugar): the New Orleans speciality which Felix Leiter orders for Roger Moore in Live And Let Die.
Given his Scottish background, Bond also drinks more than his fair share of Scotch. We hear he downed a shocking 11 whisky-and-sodas before his long overdue health check in Thunderball. These were probably his favourite Haig & Haig Pinch (dating back to Casino Royale and Live And Let Die), or Black & White (from the book of Moonraker and the film of Dr No).
Since then, Johnnie Walker Red Label and J&B Rare have both made film appearances (both, notably, popular in the US) before Piers Brosnan cleaned his gun in Die Another Day beside a decanter of (apparently) Talisker single malt from Skye.
Golfers, meanwhile, will have spotted the whisky of the Japanese Suntory brand (past sponsors of the World Matchplay Championship) which Bond drinks in both the book and film of You Only Live Twice.
Tony’s tip: Pour equal parts chilled champagne on to Guinness or equivalent stout.
For all the culture surrounding the cocktails, the ultimate 007 drink in terms of both literary references and movie exposure is champagne, with Dom Pérignon and Bollinger between them carving up almost all the 22 films.
The former, Moët & Chandon’s premium wine, was soon immortalised in the iconic ‘golden girl’ scene in Goldfinger (the ’53 vintage), and The Man With The Golden Gun when Scaramanga shoots the cork off a bottle of the ’64 (“I prefer the ’62 myself,” quips Roger Moore).
Bollinger took on the mantle with Live And Let Die in what has now become surely the most established commercial brand relationship with a film franchise.
While Roger Moore appears to settle for non-vintage Special Cuvée in that debut, his successors have enjoyed Bollinger’s more premium offerings. The Daniel Craig and Piers Brosnan films are associated with La Grand Année made from only the most exceptional vintages (apparently the bottle in The World Is Not Enough is the revered 1990).
Meanwhile,Timothy Dalton goes one better with the more exclusive Bollinger RD (récemment dégorgé – that is, ‘recently disgorged’ – to remove sediment) which is aged for eight rather than a mere five years.
We still await 007 references to Bollinger’s most exclusive Année Rare and Vieille Vignes Françaises, even if these limited editions conflict with the mass-market promotion of what even the film credits now specify is The Champagne Of James Bond.
Ironically, these two iconic brands barely get a mention in the books, beyond the Dom Pérignon ’46 into which Bond adds Benzedrine powder in Moonraker, and the ¼-bottle of Bollinger that Tiffany sends to his Queen Elizabeth cabin in Diamonds Are Forever (along with her hand-made Sauce Béarnaise).
Taittinger in fact emerges as the literary Bond’s best bubbly as early as Casino Royale, starting with the Blanc De Blanc Brut 1943 he has on first meeting Vesper Lynd (the 2006 film has them sharing a bottle of Château Angelus 1982, a Saint-Emilion Premier Cru claret, on the train to Montenegro).
While a Dom Pérignon ’55 was chosen for the Dr No film debut, Taittinger soon resurfaced – literally, from the Thames – in the From Russia With Love punting scene in which Sylvia Trench mentions golf.
Pink champagne is another favourite, especially the Pommery ’50 that accompanies the slap-up meal of stone crabs at the start of Goldfinger and the Clicquot Rosé which 007 drinks with Domino Vitali at the Nassau casino in Thunderball.
The Black Velvet itself appears in Chapter 3 of Diamonds Are Forever when Bond and Bill Tanner have a pint with their dressed crab at Scott’s restaurant.
Which just leaves the half-bottles of Krug and Pol Roger of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the latter which Fleming’s friend, Patrick Leigh Fermor, gently pointed out was one of the few brands that didn’t come in half bottles.
We’ll gloss over Fleming’s reference to Babycham in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.....
Tony’s tip: Two measures of light rum, teaspoon of sugar, fresh lime juice. Shake, strain over ice cubes, add soda water and a slice of orange.
Rum is back on the Bond bar radar after the huge publicity associated with the Mount Gay brand that Daniel Craig drinks with “soda” [or rather, cola] in the early Casino Royale gambling scene when taking Alex Dimitrios to the cleaners at the Ocean Club, Bahamas.
This dark Bajan blend certainly makes a change from the Bacardi bottle thrown at Roger Moore as a Molotov cocktail by Max Zorin in A View To A Kill.
It’s worth mentioning that the original real-life Vesper cocktail was apparently a type of rum punch that Fleming first encountered at Noel Coward’s home in Jamaica.
Conventional rum cocktails also appear in the Bond books, including the Rum Collins of Thunderball (mixed above) and the Daquiris (rum, lime and sugar) that the suitably suggestible girls drink in Blofeld’s lair on Piz Gloria (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).
Perhaps most famous are the Mojitos (a Mint Julep with white rum instead of bourbon) which Piers Brosnan orders in the Die Another Day scene in which the bikini-clad Halle Berry emerges from the sea.
BRANDY & LIQUERS
Tony’s tip: 1½ measures brandy, ½ measureWhite Crème de Menthe. Shake with ice, and strain.
Bond beverages not only match the occasion but also the location. Calvados in Normandy (OHMSS), saké in Japan (YOLT), raki in Turkey (FRWL), Enzian schnapps on the Swiss leg of Goldfinger, Löwenbraü beer in Munich (OHMSS), Red Stripe in Jamaica (TMWTGG), Rosé d’Anjou in the Loire Valley (Goldfinger) and Glüwein (aka Italian vin brulé ) in the icy Dolomites (FYEO film) are just some the authentic local tipples 007 enjoys on his adventures.
The French cognac connection starts as early as Casino Royale, when René Mathis drinks fine à l’eau in the Hotel Hermitage at Royale-Les-Eaux. Bond himself opts for Hennessy Three Star when over-nighting in Orléans in Goldfinger, and uses a bottle of Courvoisier to turn Mr Kidd into a human fireball in Diamonds Are Forever.
The Brandy Stinger itself appears in the same book, as Bond follows Tiffany’s lead at New York’s 21 Club.The only surprise is that the pair don’t resort to another brandy-based cocktail the following morning – the Prairie Oyster hangover cure (Brandy, raw egg, Worcester sauce) that Bond admits to in Chapter 7 of Thunderball.
Not forgetting the scene in Goldfinger when Connery remarks on the “30 year old fine, indifferently blended… with an overdose of Bons Bois”. For the benefit of M (“what’s wrong with it?”), he could have elaborated that Bon Bois is an outer-lying region of Cognac whose rich soil is characterised by more earthy, less delicate brandies than the chalk-rich heart of the Charente.
In terms of oenophilia trivia, this is only topped by the equivalent scene in Diamonds Are Forever in which Connery cites 1851 (“unmistakeable”) as the original vintage on which Sir Donald Monger’s Solera sherry is based. This is especially impressive given how the Solera system (progressively blending older wines with younger wines of the same style) is deliberately designed to replace the very concept of vintage with an individual taste that remains consistent from year-to-year.
More modestly, brandy and ginger ale emerges as Bond’s favourite in-flight entertainment. He refers to it as “the drunkard’s drink” in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and downs “a chain” of them en route to Japan in You Only Live Twice.
Fast-forward to 2008 and Sebastian Faulks switches Bond’s travel tipple in Devil May Care, while obligingly adding a golf reference. Guarded by four psychotic henchman at take-off, 007 wishes it was a normal flight when “he could read a few pages of Ben Hogan on The Modern Fundamentals Of Golf, then watch the sun glinting on the wings as he sipped a Bloody Mary”.
Bond has obviously mellowed since Thunderball when he told Domino her vodka/tomato juice classic was “soft”; while the Hogan book is probably the same copy – now 50-years-old – he bought at New York’s Idlewild airport in Chapter 22 of Goldfinger.
Clearly, 007’s “real” handicap was indeed nine. One over the eight.
Thanks to: Tony Adams (www.cocktailsandteams.com), Boulevard Dining Rooms and Gerry’s Wines & Spirits, both of Old Compton Street, London W1.