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.)

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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.

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.

Virginia Gentleman Bourbon

In The Spy Who Love Me, when Vivienne Michel is settling in for her intended evening of memories of her life, she prepares by pouring a drink.

There was just one good drink left in the quart of Virginia Gentleman bourbon that had already lasted me two weeks, and I filled one of the best cut-glass tumblers with ice cubes and poured the bourbon over them, shaking the bottle to get out the last drop.

Virginia Gentleman is a brand produced by the A. Smith Bowman Distillery. This article will tell you just about everything you need to know about Virginia Gentleman bourbon, including why it is true bourbon despite being distilled in Virginia, and not Kentucky.

The page notes that since it is from Virginia, and popular around Washington D.C., that:

For foreign ambassadors and distinguished guests of our country who may have tasted only one bourbon in their lives, Virginia Gentleman could well have been that bourbon.

We know Ian Fleming tasted plenty of bourbon in his life, but given his wartime visits, it’s proximity to Washington D.C. might’ve made it one of his earlier brands.

Virginia_Gentleman

VG-Ad-1950s

 

The above images which date from the 1950’s, show two gentlemen being served by an African-American slave. The label was updated in later years to a more acceptable image.

Black and White

In Moonraker, when James Bond stops at the World Without Want in, he orders a large whisky and soda.

He sat up at the bar and waited while the man poured two measures of Black and White and put the glass in front of him with a syphon of soda.  Bond filled the glass with soda and drank.

Black and White is a blended scotch whisky which was originally made by James Buchanan & Co Ltd and known as House of Commons. The nickname of its black and white label eventually stuck.

After a series of sales, the brand is now owned by Diageo.

Black and White Whisky Ad 1945black-and-white-scotch

Haig and Haig Pinchbottle

Haig and Haig Pinchbottle is a blended scotch whisky in a unique three-sided bottle. The bottle was actually trademarked in the United States in 1958.

In Live and Let Die at Sugar Ray’s, Bond and Leiter have scotch-and-soda with Haig and Haig Pinchbottle.

When Bond returns to his hotel room after his “meeting” with Mr Big, “He put a handful of wilted ice cubes into a tall glass, poured in three inches of Haig and Haig and swilled the mixture round in the glass to  cool and dilute it. Then he drank down half the glass in one long swallow.”

When Bond shows up at The Everglades, Leiter grabs a bottle of Haig and Haig and some soda water and they both have a long drink.

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, during Bond’s initial encounter with Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the Union Corse produces bourbon for Bond, and a bottle of Pinchbottle Haig for himself.

haig&haig

Dont'_be_Vague_ask_for_Haig_advertisement

 

Old Grandad Bourbon

On several occasions during Live and Let Die, Ian Fleming has James Bond drinking “Old Grandad” bourbon.

On the train with Solitaire:

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

Before his encounter with The Robber:

He drank a quarter of a pint of Old Grandad with the steak and had two cups of very strong coffee.

After his encounter with The Robber:

He stopped at the ‘Gulf Wind Bar and Snacks’ and ordered a double Old Grandad on the rocks.

(He then has another.)

In Diamonds Are Forever, when Bond is in Las Vegas, and orders a Bourbon and Branch Water, he has Old Grandad as the whisky.

The bourbon that Fleming is referring to is Old Grand-Dad bourbon, which is shown here in this 1955 ad:
55oldgranddadwhiskey

This ad is from 1950:

old-grand-dad-1950

The brand is now owned and distributed by the Beam Inc and distilled at the Jim Beam Plant in Clermont, Kentucky.

Interestingly, it is the only brand acquired by Beam which still uses the original recipe. Other brands that Beam has bought have been changed to Beam’s own, but Old Grand-Dad should be the same as when Bond was drinking it.

That link also indicates to me that it was the “Bonded” (no pun intended) version of Old-Grand-Dad that James Bond was drinking, as it notes Historically, Old Grand-Dad Bonded was the #1 bonded bourbon when bottled-in-bond meant something to bourbon drinkers.

I.W. Harper Bourbon

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, when Bond is in his first meeting with Marc-Ange Draco, they bond over a little whisky.

With efficient, housekeeperly movements, he (Draco) took out a bottle of pinchbottle Haig, another of I. W. Harper’s Bourbon, two pint glasses that looked like Waterford, a bucket of ice cubes, a siphon of soda, and a flagon of iced water.

Bond pours himself a “stiff Bourbon and water with plenty of ice.” Draco goes for the Haig, which is a blended scotch.

draco-drinks

 

I.W. Harper is another brand that has largely gone by the wayside. Very hard to find in the states, it is said to be hugely popular in Japan. The brand is now owned by Diageo brands. (The Pinch is also a Diageo product now.)

Update: I.W. Harper bourbon is being rebranded and relaunched in the United States – Review: I.W. Harper Bourbon and 15 Year Old Bourbon

I.W._HARPER_15_YEAR

Walker’s DeLuxe Bourbon

In The Man With The Golden Gun, Bond seems to have a preference for this now-defunct brand.

After arriving in Jamaica, Bond makes his way to the hotel at Morgan’s Harbour. While waiting to meet up with Mary Goodnight, he goes to the waterfront bar and orders a “double Walker’s de Luxe on the rocks” followed by another “with a water chaser to break it down”. Then, when Goodnight arrives, he orders her a daiquiri, and himself another double, making it three doubles at that sitting.

Later, after checking into the Thunderbird hotel, Bond calls Room Service and “ordered a bottle of Walker’s de Luxe Bourbon, three glasses, ice and for nine o’clock, Eggs Benedict.

Bond reflected:

The best drink of the day is just before the first one (the Red Stripe didn’t count). James Bond put ice in the glass and three fingers of the bourbon and swilled it round the glass to cool it and break it down with the ice.

After picking up his book, (Profiles in Courage by John F Kennedy.) Bond drinks:

He drank the bourbon down in two long draughts and felt its friendly bite at the back of his throat and in his stomach. He filled up his glass again, this time with more ice to make it a weaker drink, and sat back and thought about Scaramanga.

He then has a last drink before bed.

Two more times in the book, Bond takes a slug or two of bourbon in his room. We can assume it is from that same bottle.

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walkers-deluxe

Suntory

SuntoryThis Japanese whisky has a surprisingly long heritage, even when it was mentioned in You Only Live Twice.

While Bond tells Dikko Henderson :”I can’t believe Japanese whisky makes a good foundation for anything“, both Dikko and Tiger consume it in the novel.

Dikko defends the brand, “But you’re wrong about Suntory. It’s good enough brew. Stick to the cheapest, the White Label, at around fifteen bob a bottle. There are two smarter brands, but the cheap one’s the best.

Tiger has his with a splash of soda. Bond, meanwhile continues his prejudice against the Japanese whisky, preferring Sake throughout the novel.