Gin and Tonic

In Dr No, James Bond arrives in Jamaica and is brought to The Blue Hills Hotel (Not Myrtle Bank, as, in an effort to protect his cover, he told the eager photographer)  by Quarrel, Bond settles into his room, showering off “the last dirt of big-city life: and pulling on his favorite Sea Island cotton shorts. He then sets about relaxing with a drink.

Bond ordered a double gin and tonic and one whole green lime. When the drink came he cut the lime in half, dropped the two squeezed halves into the long glass, almost filled the glass with ice cubes and then poured in the tonic. He took the drink out on to the balcony, and sat and looked out across the spectacular view.

It’s a fairly straightforward drink. A couple of items which I find worthy of mentioning here.

The Limes

First, the whole green lime. In the past when making this drink following the instructions above, I found it a bit of a challenge to fit both halves of the squeezed lime into the glass, along with the ice cubes, a double portion of gin (4 oz, at least) and the tonic.

When I went to Jamaica in 2106 and stayed at GoldenEye, there were limes provided in my bungalow as part of the mini-bar. I noted these limes were much smaller, paler, rounder and firmer than I was used to purchasing in the U.S, perhaps 1/2 to 1/3 the size of a supermarket lime. At first I thought maybe I had been provided some old shriveled limes, but upon cutting them, they were very juicy inside. They were also seedless. (No, they weren’t Key Limes.) When in the local markets, I saw all the limes for sale were also of this size and type. I’m fairly sure they were Persian Bearss limes, which are a variety grown on the island.

I remember it striking me then – this was probably the size of the lime Bond used to make his gin and tonic – it made sense; it fit into the glass better, leaving plenty of room for the rest of the ingredients, and it still contained plenty of juice. A small detail, and perhaps obvious to others, but something that clicked in and felt like a revelation to me at the time.

Supermarket (Mexican) lime on left. Persian lime on right.

The Tonic

As for tonic, I’d grown disillusioned with modern-day tonic water, the major brands are all sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. This ingredient did not exist in Fleming’s day, so I always felt I wasn’t getting an authentic taste for what they were drinking. (The same with other mixers such as ginger ale.) A few years ago I began seeking out smaller brands which were using pure cane sugar to sweeten the tonic water, brands like Fever Tree. I can honestly say that it does make a difference, so now, even though I don’t drink much soda or tonic, the ones that I do use when mixing these Bond drinks are sweetened with sugar. I’ve been using a small bottling works located in my area called Squamscot Beverages. Their motto is even – “Experience the Past… One Sip at a Time”!

The Gin

I’ve recently discovered Diplôme Dry Gin Original 1945 Recipe which seems a natural fit for this drink.

Chianti Broglio

After meeting up with the man identifying himself as Captain Nash, James Bond and Tatiana Romanova head for a meal aboard the Orient Express.

In the restaurant car, Bond ordered Americanos and a bottle of Chianti Broglio. The wonderful European hors d’oeuvres came. Tatiana began to look more cheerful.

The Chianti Broglio or (Brolio) was a wine from The Castle of Brolio, an 11th century estate which did much for the promotion and development of Chianti wine.

chianti

In 1872, Baron Bettino Ricasoli wrote down the formula for his Chianti:

…I verified the results of the early experiments, that is, that the wine receives most of its aroma from the Sangioveto (which is my particular aim) as well as a certain vigour in taste; the Canajuolo gives it a sweetness which tempers the harshness of the former without taking away any of its aroma, though it has an aroma all of its own; the Malvagia, which could probably be omitted for wines for laying down, tends to dilute the wine made from the first two grapes, but increases the taste and makes the wine lighter and more readily suitable for daily consumption…

brolio

The wine along with the Americanos put both Bond and Tatiana into a better, more relaxed mood.

Black Velvet

In Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond has just had his briefing with M and the Chief of Staff is trying to impress upon 007 how seriously their boss is taking the threat of American gangsters. Bond dismisses the group as “Mostly a lot of Italian bums with monogrammed shirts who spend the day eating spaghetti and meat-balls and squirting scent all over themselves.

Chief of Staff Tanner attempts to get Bond to understand the danger by citing the Kefauver Report and the fact that 34 murders were being committed in America every day.

Bond’s face relaxed. ‘Come on, Bill,’ he said. ‘If that’s all there is to it, I’ll buy you lunch. It’s my turn and I feel like celebrating. No more paperwork this summer. I’ll take you to Scotts’ and we’ll have some of their dressed crab and a pint of black velvet. You’ve taken a load off my mind. I thought there might be some ghastly snag about this job.

Scotts’ was a favorite restaurant of Bond’s (and Fleming’s) located at that time at 18-20 Coventry Street, Westminster.

While there was (and is) a Canadian whisky by the name of Black Velvet, it would appear here that Fleming is referring to a cocktail by the same name that is a combination of a black stout beer (like Guinness) and sparking white wine or champagne.

black-velvet

The recipe is apparently equals parts of each, either just poured together, or layered in the way of a black-and-tan.

The story of the cocktail is that when Prince Albert died in 1861, the people were in mourning, and that the Steward of Brooks’ club ordered even the champagne to wear black – by mixing it with Guinness!

(Thanks to reader Donal for nudging me in the right direction on this.)

Slivovic

While in Belgrade, at the apartment of Stefan Trempo, James Bond and Tatiana Romanova have some refreshments before returning to the Orient Express for the next part of their journey in From Russia With Love.

Later, after Slivovic and smoked ham and peaches, Tempo came and took them to the station and to the waiting express under the hard lights of the arcs.

Slivovic (or Slivovitz or Slivovice or Šljivovica) is a plum brandy, common in Central and Eastern Europe. It is known as the national drink of Serbia and the plum is the national fruit. It is revered more than any other alcoholic drink in the country. It is part of many folk remedies.

Even today, Serbians are known to have a shot of brandy upon waking up, to “wash away” the viruses and accelerate circulation. It is used for day-to-day use as well as mourning and celebrations.

plum-brandy sljivovica

It is easy to read over the passage and completely not register “Slivovic,”or give it a second thought. But as usual, Ian Fleming provides the exact correct beverage for what people in that location, at that time, would be drinking.

(On a food note, smoked meats are very popular in Serbia, and peaches are almost as plentiful as plums.)

 

How To Order A Martini Like Ian Fleming

We haven’t actually tackled the Vesper Martini just yet, which is James Bond’s own creation as outlined in Casino Royale. As with most things, Ian Fleming shared Bond’s tastes, he too enjoyed martinis as well as the other drinks in the Bond canon.

However on martinis, it appears Fleming preferred a mixture that was a bit simpler than Bond’s exacting formula.

The following passage was in Henry A. Zeiger’s Ian Fleming: The Spy Who Came in with the Gold. – A 1966 biography of Fleming.

He liked American martinis, as did his hero, but admitted they were somewhat hard to find in London. He wrote: “It is extremely difficult to get a good Martini anywhere in England. . . . The way I get one to suit me in any pub is to walk calmly and confidently up to the bar and, speaking very distinctly, ask the man or girl behind it to put plenty of ice in the shaker (they nearly all have a shaker), pour in six gins and one dry vermouth (enunciate ‘dry’ carefully) and shake until I tell them to stop.

“You then point to a suitably large glass and ask them to pour the mixture in. Your behaviour will create a certain amount of astonishment, not unmixed with fear, but you will have achieved a very large and fairly good Martini, and it will cost you about $1.25.”

That’s it. No olives. No lemon peel. No vodka, just gin and vermouth in a 6-1 ratio and shaken. Elsewhere, Fleming states his preference for American vermouth, rather than the continental varieties.

Zeiger doesn’t specifically say where Fleming wrote this, though he makes reference to a Spectator article. This passage also appeared in the collection Talk of the Devil a collection of unpublished Fleming material put out by Queen Anne Press.

Some purists and mixologists disapprove of the shaking of the martini, insisting the gin will be “bruised.” (Note: that’s nonsense. The possible issue is that shaking could “water down” your martini.) Another, more realistic issue is that your martini will be cloudy after shaking, but even that will clear up after a few minutes.

plain-martini

If you’re looking for an easy, simple martini recipe, why not try the Fleming’s original?

 

Kavaklıdere Wine

While having lunch with Darko Kerim in From Russia With Love, Bond has kebabs, watches Kerim eat his raw meat, and they have a bottle of wine.

The second course came, and with it a bottle of Kavaklidere, a rich course burgundy like any other Balkan wine.

Kavaklidere is the oldest and most famous winery in Turkey.

tarih2

In describing the wine as a “burgundy” Fleming is referring to its color, a deep rich red, likely from either the Öküzgözü  (“ox eye”) grape or the Boğazkere (translates to “throat burner”) grape.  The latter produces a strong bodied red wine with very rich and strong aromas of dried red fruits, and spices, and is said to pair very well with red meat kebabs.

Vineyards of the Kavaklidere Winery.
Vineyards of the Kavaklidere Winery.

Ouzo and Raki

James Bond is a proponent of the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” When he travels abroad, he immerses himself in the local food and drink.

In From Russia With Love,  while Bond is traveling to his assignment, he has a bit of a scare on the plane, and when he lands at for a stopover in Athens, he heads to the bar.

He ordered a tumbler of ouzo and drank it down and chased it with a mouthful of ice water. There was a strong bit under the sickly anisette taste and Bond felt the drink light a quick, small fire down his throat and in his stomach. He put down his glass and ordered another.

Later, when Bond is having lunch with Darko Kerim after arriving in Turkey, he is served raki. He notes that it tasted “identical with ouzo.”

When Kerim and Bond visit the gypsy camp and are invited to dinner, raki is in abundance at the tables.

So are ouzo and raki the same? Not quite, like sambuca, absinthe and Pernod they are anise-flavoured distillates each originating in a different country. Ouzo is from Greece, raki from Turkey, sambuca from Italy, absinthe from Switzerland and Pernod from France.

They are made of the leftovers from wine production. The leftover skin and pulp from the grapes are boiled up to produce a steam, that, when condensed, becomes the liquor. The concentrations and additives to each are slightly different, making each liquor slightly different as well. The anise gives them all a base taste of black licorice.

Several, including ouzo and raki, when mixed with water turn a milky color. Raki is generally much stronger (up to 90% alcohol) than ouzo (usually 35-45%.)

ouzo-raki

Old Fashioned

old-fashioned-glass

On the Phantom train with Solitaire in Live and Let Die, they get settled in after boarding.

Bond ordered Old Fashioneds, and stipulated ‘Old Grandad’ Bourbon, chicken sandwiches, and decaffeined ‘Sanka’ coffee so that their sleep would not be spoilt.

In Thunderball, after a long first day (and before a long night) arriving in the Bahamas and searching for clues, James Bond via room service, orders a “double Bourbon Old Fashioned” before collapsing on his bed.

The Old Fashioned is essentially a way to give Bourbon some flavor with bitters (usually Angostura) and some sweetness with sugar and fruit.

old-fashioned

The roots of the cocktail can be traced back to the early days of the 19th century when drinks of spirits, bitters sugar and water become popular. In time, other ingredients were added to the cocktail, but eventually the original came back into popularity as people began requesting the “Old Fashioned” version.

Bollinger Champagne

This famous champagne makes but one appearance in the Ian Fleming novels. His James Bond is more of a Taittinger man.

It takes place in Diamonds Are Forever, and Bond doesn’t even make the decision. Tiffany Case decides to send him a message to show that she can whip up a good Sauce Béarnaise – a requirement that Bond only half-jokingly made when asked what he wanted in a wife.

They are on the RMS Queen Elizabeth and Bond is in his cabin. There is a knock at the door, and the waiter brings in a tray.

Bond slipped off the bed and went over and examined the contents of the tray. He smiled to himself. There was a quarter bottle of Bollinger, a chafing dish containing four small slivers of steak on toast canapés, and a small bowl of sauce. Beside this was a pencilled note which said ‘This Sauce Béarnaise has been created by Miss T. Case without my assistance.’ Signed ‘The Chef.’

Bond is suitably impressed with the Sauce Béarnaise. Nothing is said about the Bollinger Champagne, though we can assume Bond enjoyed it as well.

Bollinger is one of the most well-known champagnes in the world, originating in the Champagne area of France. The house was founded in 1829 and remains in the family to this day. bolinger

bollinger1950s bollinger1955

 

Bourbon

This page will be updated as we go through the novels)

This Kentucky-based barrel-aged whisky seems to be a Bond staple when abroad.

bourbon-barrelsAn observation can be made about Bond’s drinking preferences and habits. He’ll drink a martini at a bar or restaurant or when in company, while when drinking alone or in his hotel room, he often has bourbon.

He has a few favorite brands that are specifically mentioned throughout the series. These each have their own page:

I.W. Harper’s
Jack Daniels (coming)
Walker’s DeLuxe
Old Grandad
Virginia Gentleman

Here are other references to Bond drinking Bourbon throughout the series.

In Live and Let Die, Bond orders Old Fashions on the Silver Phantom, stipulating Old Grandad Bourbon. Before meeting up with The Robber, he has a quarter of a pint of Old Grandad with his steak dinner, and  later has two double Old Grandads on the rocks while preparing to leave Tampa.

Throughout Diamonds are Forever, Bond consumes Bourbon and Bourbon and Branch water.

The opening chapter of Goldfinger is entitled REFLECTIONS IN A DOUBLE BOURBON and Bond has several before heading out with Mr Dupont.

In Thunderball, after finding the plane, Bond goes back to his room and orders a “club sandwich and double bourbon on the rocks” before phoning Domino.

In The Spy Who Loved Me, Vivienne Michel is consuming the last of her bottle of Virginia Gentleman bourbon as the story gets going.

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, while at Piz Gloria, Bond sits next to Ruby at dinner, who is having a Daiquiri, and Bond orders a double Bourbon on the rocks.

After Tracy gives Bond a detailed description of what she had for dinner, Bond tells her over the phone that “I had two ham sandwiches with stacks of mustard and half a pint of Harper’s Bourbon on the rocks.The bourbon was better than the ham.”

When Bond meets Marc-Ange to discuss the commando job on Piz Gloria, he “poured himself a stiff Jack Daniel’s sourmash bourbon on the rocks and added some water.”

In You Only Live Twice, Bond, while at the Miyako hotel in Kyoto, Bond orders “a pint of Jack Daniels and a double portion of eggs Benedict to be brought up to his room.”

Fleming himself preferred bourbon to scotch. He had the notion that it was somehow better for his heart as he explained to Richard Hughes: ‘The muscles expand under bourbon; Dikko, but they contract under scotch. ‘ He also suggested that bourbon counteracted the ill-effects of the nicotine in the many cigarettes that he smoked each day. (Foreign Devil: Thirty Years Of Reporting In The Far East by Richard Hughes)

Sadly, history proves out that Mr Fleming’s theories were perhaps not accurate in this case, at least.