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.”

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