When we think of James Bond, we think of the celluloid James Bond; of a debonair and dapper gentleman who charms his way in and out of dangerous and ribald situations. A man who prefers his martinis shaken, not stirred. Alas, this image has little to do with the character Ian Fleming created—who more resembled Sterling Archer than the cinematic Bond.
But what’s the fun in that, besides the obvious parts? Well, lots. With “Spectre” eying us and the weekend upon us, we need to dig in and find out just what Bond, the real Bond, suggests we pour into our glasses this weekend. (That’s right, I said glasses. Bond’s heroism wasn’t limited to espionage; he was also a heroic tippler.)
With that in mind, let’s get out the tumblers and the snifters and the rocks glasses and the martini glasses and the…just get them all out. We’re going to need them.
We could do the heavy lifting and pore over the available literature, but thankfully the Thinking Drinkers have done it for us. They found James Bond was heroic when it came to his consumption. They also found he wasn’t particularly choosy about his libations. In fact, Bond’s taste in hooch was about as wide as his taste in hoochies. With that in mind, let’s take a brief stroll through Bond’s drinks.
That’s Not a Martini, But Whatever
The original Bond martini isn’t a martini, at least not from a purist’s standpoint, but a cocktail in a martini glass. The Vesper—a combination of gin, vodka, and Lillet Blanc—is straight, if not neat, out of Fleming’s incarnation.
Gin is the star, with vodka and the Lillet Blanc rounding things out. Supposedly, if one is to drink a Vesper, he will never again drink anything else. As of writing, I remain afraid to take this risk.
Bond did enjoy a vodka martini, though some dispute that’s a martini. I’ll assert that “some” have too much free time and drink too slowly if they’re getting that pedantic about a big v-shaped glass of slightly cold booze. There are also arguments to be made about shaking versus stirring and bruising the gin, but those, too, are to be dismissed. If it was good enough for Bond, it’s good enough for us. Moreover, you’re overthinking this.
Scotchy Scotchy Scotch
There is also Scotch—blended and single malt. The Macallan, seriously one of the best single malts out there, made an appearance in “Skyfall,” but countless others had also their turns. Bond has held glasses of Talisker and Johnny Walker and Black&White, too. As an aside—because Bond was all about variety—the Balvenie 14-year Caribbean Cask, while not mentioned, has relevance to Fleming and to Bond, so go ahead and pick some up. It will impress those on either side of you at the craps table.
Fleming even detoured through Tennessee—Lynchburg, specifically—and put glasses of Jack Daniels’ in Bond’s hand. He headed over to Virginia by way of Kentucky with Virginia Gentleman, just to prove Bond will drink anything. He visited Kentucky, again, with Old Grand Dad, which is better than Virginia Gentleman, although it still benefits mightily from a splash of soda. (Seriously, Bond was not beneath the bottom shelf when imbibing brown liquors.)
Then there’s Canada, although not Crown Royal, so Bond didn’t even score the velvet bag with which to hold smaller bits of his spy gear, beer, and bubbly. And Calvados. And more Scotch. And wine. And more bourbon.
Bond’s True Heroism
Have I mentioned he was a heroic drinker? This is the magic of Bond, and what we should remember as “Spectre” eyes us. Whereas we think of Bond as “shaken, not stirred,” he was more than that. He was “shaken, but also not stirred.” He was a man who could navigate any bar, any layout, any cookout, any hidden stash in the woods, any remnant of Cold War rations, anything stolen from a prison—anything!—and make it work.
So celebrate the weekend. Celebrate “Spectre” and channel your inner James Bond. Just as Archer took time to drink a few gallons of mamajuana while playing dominoes, you have time to drink a few gallons in honor of the weekend, Bond, and—hell—Archer, too.
Well, maybe not. Gallons is an excessive amount. Unless you’re a hero. Which you’re probably not. That’s where I come in. They call me Cromwell. Richard Cromwell.