Taittinger Blanc de Blanc

In Casino Royale, James Bond and Vesper are having champagne, and Bond originally requests a Taittinger ’45. The wine waiter replies:

‘A fine wine, monsieur,’ said the sommelier. ‘But if the monsieur will permit,’ he pointed with his pencil, ‘the Blanc de Blanc Brut 1943 of the same marque is without equal.’

Bond accepts the suggestion, noting to Vesper that while this is not a well-known brand, “it is probably the finest champagne in the world.”

In seems that Bond has spent time extolling the virtues of Taittinger to others, including his boss, M. From Moonraker:

We’ve got some good champagnes, haven’t we, Grimley? None of that stuff you’re always telling me about, I’m afraid, James. Don’t often see it in England. Taittinger, wasn’t it?”

Bond tries to play it down, saying it was only a “fad” of his, but we know better. Following Grimley’s suggestion however, Bond ends up with a Dom Perignon ‘46.

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond has checked into the Hotel Splendide, he “ordered from Room Service a bottle of the Taittinger Blanc de Blanc that he had made his traditional drink at Royale.” 

So, that tradition appears to have begun in Casino Royale.

This ad is from just a couple of years after OHMSS was written:

taittinger

Stinger

The Stinger makes a few appearances in the Fleming novels. This sweet cocktail of crème de menthe mixed with a spirit – usually brandy – is a classic before or after dinner drink.

In Diamonds Are Forever, after dinner at ’21’ James Bond and Tiffany case have drinks and coffee.

Tiffany ordered a Stinger made with white crème de menthe and Bond ordered the same.

Near the end of the book, when the two of them are on the ship headed to England, again they have just finished dinner and are awaiting the rest of the evening.

They got into the lift for the Promenade Deck. “And now what, James?” said Tiffany. “I’d like some more coffee, and a Stinger made with white Crème de Menthe, while we listen to the Auction Pool.

In Thunderball, when Leiter and Bond go to the casino, they head to the tables only after having “coffee and a stinger at the bar”.

stinger

White, or clear crème de menthe is critical to a good stinger. Save the green stuff for Largo’s crème de menthe frappe!

stinger

Vodka Tonic

In Thunderball, when Bond meets Domino for the first time, he talks her into going for drinks, and orders a Vodka and Tonic with a dash of bitters. (She has a double Bloody Mary with plenty of worcester sauce.)

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, on the night prior to heading out to Blofeld’s Piz Gloria lair as Sir Hilary Bray, Bond prepares for the trip:

As the taxi got under way, Bond made his plan for the evening. He would first do an extremely careful packing job of his single suitcase, the one that had no tricks to it, have two double vodkas and tonics with a dash of Angostura, eat a large dish of May’s specialty – scrambled eggs fines herbes – have two more vodkas and tonics, and then, slightly drunk, go to bed with half a grain of Seconal.

A slight variation on the Vodka and Tonic, the addition of the bitters adds a little depth to the drink.

vodka, tonic & fee bros oldfashioned bitters

Crème de Menthe Frappé

In Thunderball, as the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. crew finishes up Phase III and Largo has made his radio call to Blofeld, he “went into the stateroom and carefully made himself a tall glass of his favourite drink – crème de menthe frappé with a maraschino cherry on top. He sipped it delicately to the end and ate the cherry.”

A Crème de Menthe Frappé is simply shaved ice with Green Crème de Menthe poured over the top.

creme-de-menthe-frappe

Whisky and Soda

This page will be periodically updated as we move through the novels…

While James Bond is normally associated with the vodka martini, it might be more accurate to associate Fleming’s Bond with whisky drinks, and especially the whisky and soda.

In Live and Let Die, when Bond and Felix Leiter head out to Harlem, they have at least three rounds of scotch-and-sodas. At Sugar Rays it was Haig and Haig Pinchbottle. At the Savoy Ballroom and at The Boneyard, it is just scotch-and-soda.

When Bond arrives in Jamaica, Strangways poured a strong whisky- and-soda for both of them.

In Moonraker, the drink appears several times in the book. M has it at Blades, as do Drax, Basildon and other principals of the night. On the night Major Tallon was killed, he was having a whisky and soda, and Bond in his follow up to the murder has the same.

At the start of Thunderball, Bond is feeling the effects of having had eleven (11!) whisky and sodas the preceding evening.

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the first time Bond meets “the girls” as Sir Hilary Bray, he orders a whisky and soda from the barman.

At his final meal on the mountain, even as he is planning his escape, “Bond concentrated on getting plenty of whisky and food under his belt.”

At Quarterdeck, after the meeting with M on Christmas Day, it is tea time. M orders tea from Hammond, but then says ‘Or rather have a whisky and soda?’ ‘Whisky, please, sir.’ said Bond with infinite relief.

At two in the morning, Bond arrives at the home of the Swiss representative of the secret service, and says “a drink will fix me.” Muir then pours himself a thin whisky and soda to keep Bond company. We’re assuming Bond had the same.

I need to research this further, but I’d be willing to guess that in the Fleming novels, Bond consumes more whisky and sodas than he does martinis.

The whisky soda may be dismissed by some modern drinkers – liquor.com wrote a defense of the drink – and cited a NY Times article that showed that adding soda (or just water) does not just dilute or weaken the drink:

“Aroma molecules are also more chemically similar to alcohol molecules than they are to water, so they tend to cling to alcohol, and are quicker to evaporate out of a drink when there’s less alcohol to cling to,” wrote food scientist Harold McGee in The New York Times. “Add water and there’s less alcohol to irritate and burn, and more aroma release.”

TH_WhiskeySoda_20

Bourbon and Branch Water

In Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond is in America, and is again escorted by Felix Leiter for a time and given lessons in the native food and drink.

He walked home with the crowds, had a shower and some sleep, and then found his way to a restaurant near the sales ring and spent an hour drinking the drink that Leiter had told him was fashionable in racing circles – Bourbon and branch water. Bond guessed that in fact the water was from the tap behind the bar, but Leiter had said that real Bourbon drinkers insist on having their whisky in the traditional style, with water from high up in the branch of the local river where it will be purest. The barman didn’t seem surprised when he asked for it, and Bond was amused at the conceit.

Branch water is preferable if it has been limestone-filtered, which removes the iron from the water. Iron would discolor the bourbon. Bourbon is made with limestone-filtered water, and as part of the state of Kentucky sits on an ancient limestone aquifer, it is the bourbon capital of the world. Limestone-filtered water is also very smooth on the palette, and thus is the perfect mixer for the bourbon.

At least five times in the novel Bond has this drink. When he is in Las Vegas, he orders the drink again, and tests the bartender, as Leiter had told him Vegas was a desert and there were no river branches to get the water out of.

He walked over to the bar and ordered himself a Bourbon and branch water to celebrate the five thousand dollars in his pocket.

The barman produced a corked bottle of water and put it beside Bond’s ‘Old Grandad’.

‘Where’s this come from? ‘ asked Bond, remembering what Felix Leiter had said.

‘Over by Boulder Dam,’ said the barman, seriously. ‘Comes in by truck every day. Don’t worry,’ he added “it’s the real stuff.”

When he is being held by Spang in Spectreville, Bond also demands a bourbon and branch water “half and half” before talking. Nowadays, Branch is simply a term that many bourbon drinkers use for water.

Jim Beam Black Bourbon and Water

 

branch-water

Bullshot

In the short story The Hildebrand Rarity, Milton Krest consumes three double bullshots “vodka in iced consomme” before lunch, and then beer with the meal.

Bullshots were a drink that became fairly popular in the 1950’s. Sometimes served hot, the drink was usually made from beef broth, and along with the vodka, some people put hot sauce into it as well.

Alexandra

When James Bond is sent to meet up with Kristatos in Risico, he has “been told to look for a man with a heavy mustache who would be sitting by himself drinking an Alexandra.”

Bond thinks that the “creamy, feminine drink” of a “tall-stemmed glass of cream and vodka” is an amusing and clever secret recognition signal.

Negroni

In Risico while meeting with Kristatos, Bond orders a Negroni.

Bond nodded. ‘A Negroni. With Gordon’s, please.’

The waiter walked back to the bar. ‘Negroni. Uno. Gordon’s.’

Like the Americano, the Negroni contains equal amounts Campari and sweet vermouth. It also contains an equal measure of gin. In the story, Bond specifies Gordon’s gin, a favorite of his.

The drink is said to have been invented around 1920, when Count Camillo Negroni ordered an Americano—sweet vermouth, Campari and club soda—with gin swapped in for the standard soda.

Others are skeptical of this claim, wondering if this yarn is just a bit of brilliant corporate PR by Campari, noting that the drink doesn’t appear in cocktail manuals until the middle of the century.

Risico was written after Fleming visited Venice (and the Lido peninsula) in 1958.

negroni
Negroni with Bond’s preferred Gordon’s.

If I’m making a Negroni, these are my preferred mixers:

negroni

Plymouth Gin, Campari and Dolin Vermouth.

Americano

The Americano holds the distinction of being the very first drink James Bond orders in the Ian Fleming series. In Casino Royale, while waiting for Mathis and Vesper, Bond enters the Hermitage bar, takes a seat by the windows, and orders an Americano.

This drink consists of Campari, Sweet Vermouth and soda water. The liquor is usually on a 1-1 portion, poured over ice, and then the soda is poured over the top.

The drink figures twice in the plot of From Russia With Love, both times while Bond is traveling.

Half an hour among the jabbering loudspeakers of Ciampino Airport, time to drink two excellent Americanos, and they were on their way again…

Then on the Orient Express:

In the restaurant car, Bond ordered Americanos and a bottle of Chianti Broglio. The wonderful European hors d’oeuvres came.

In the short story From a View to a Kill, Bond is again in France, and again orders an Americano. This time we’re given some more of Bond’s thinking on the drink:

“James Bond had his first drink of the evening at Fouquet’s. It was not a solid drink. One cannot drink seriously in French cafés. Out of doors on a pavement in the sun is no place for vodka or whisky or gin. A fine à I’eau is fairly serious, but it intoxicates without tasting very good. A quart de champagne or a champagne à I’orange is all right before luncheon, but in the evening one quart leads to another quart and a bottle of indifferent champagne is a bad foundation for the night. Pernod is possible, but it should be drunk in company, and anyway Bond had never liked the stuff because its liquorice taste reminded him of his childhood. No, in cafes you have to drink the least offensive of the musical comedy drinks that go with them, and Bond always had the same thing – an Americano – Bitter Campari, Cinzano, a large slice of lemon peel and soda. For the soda he always stipulated Perrier, for in his opinion expensive soda water was the cheapest way to improve a poor drink.”

Bond orders the drink, and while he ponders what to do with his evening, it arrives:

The waiter’s tray clattered down on the marble-topped table. With a slick one-handed jerk that Bond had never been able to copy, the waiter’s bottle-opener prised the cap off the Perrier. The man slipped the tab under the ice-bucket, said a mechanical “Voilà, M’sieur” and darted away. Bond put ice into his drink, filled it to the top with soda and took a long pull at it.

The Americano is said to have originated in Milan, and was given its name because of its popularity among Americans who were in Italy during prohibition. Traditionally, a slice of orange, or orange peel goes with the drink, but as we see, Bond prefers lemon. It’s another example of Bond knowing exactly what he wants in a drink.

In Risico, while in Venice to meet Lisl Baum the next day, Bond orders an Americano at Florian’s.

 

americano