A favorite restaurant of Ian Fleming while in London was Scott’s. During Fleming’s time it was located at 18-20 Coventry Street in Piccadilly Circus in Westminster. Four years after Fleming’s death, the restaurant moved to its current location on Mount Street in Mayfair.
Fleming went to Scott’s for lunch for many years, including during WWII when he was working for Naval Intelligence. It was the site of one of his more humorous plots. Fleming took captured German U-boat officers to Scott’s to try and get them drunk so that they would perhaps spill some intelligence.
The waiter heard the group talking in fluent German and telephoned Scotland Yard. The incident caused much amusement among the British Intelligence community. Fleming’s boss, Admiral Godfrey however, was not among those amused.
When Fleming began writing the James Bond stories, he made several references to Scott’s, putting his character in the very same table which Fleming preferred himself.
In Moonraker, Bond has a date to meet Gala Brand in the city. He heads to Scott’s and waits:
Bond sat at his favourite restaurant table in London, the right-hand corner table for two on the first floor, and watched the people and traffic in Piccadilly and down the Haymarket.
“I’ll take you to Scotts’ and we’ll have some of their dressed crab and a pint of black velvet.”
In You Only Live Twice, Bond is happy to have finally gotten an assignment from M, and as he exits M’s office (with his new number; 7777) he has a request for Miss Moneypenny:
Bond said, ‘Be an angel, Penny and ring down to Mary and tell her she’s got to get out of whatever she’s doing tonight. I’m taking her our to dinner. Scotts. Tell her we’ll have our first roast grouse of the year and pink champagne. Celebration.’
Originally an Oyster House, Scott’s remains one of the top seafood restaurants in the city
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.
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.)
Four times during Diamonds Are Forever Ian Fleming references the Kefauver Report.
First, the Chief of Staff is trying to convince James Bond to take American criminal activity seriously.
These are big operations. Do you realize gambling’s the biggest single industry in America? Bigger than steel. Bigger than motor cars? And they take damn good care to keep it running smoothly. Get a hold of a copy of the Kefauver Report if you don’t believe me.
Then while preparing to go undercover as Peter Franks, Bond receives a communication from headquarters via a messenger.
‘Washington’, said the memorandum, ‘reports that “Rufus B. Saye” is an alias for Jack Spang, a suspected gangster who was mentioned in the Kefauver Report but who has no criminal record.
Later, while with Felix Leiter and headed to Saratoga Springs, Bond is reading the column from Jimmy Cannon that Leiter has clipped for him to read.
The village of Saratoga Springs [he read beneath the photograph of an attractive young man with wide, straight eyes and a rather thin-lipped smile] was the Coney Island of the underworld until the Kefauvers put their show on the television. It frightened the hicks and chased the hoodlums to Las Vegas.
Finally, as Leiter is saying goodbye to Bond as the latter prepares to head out to Las Vegas, it is mentioned again.
The gangs didn’t go out with Capone. Look at Murder Inc. Look at the Kefauver Report.
In 1950, the United States Senate set out to investigate the world of organized crime in America, specifically when it came to government corruption. Senator Estes T. Kefauver of Tennessee was the first Chairman of the Senate Committee to Investigate Crime and Interstate Commerce, as it was officially named, but it quickly became known as the Kefauver hearings and eventually the Kefauver report.
During the 15-month investigation, witnesses in over 14 major U.S. cities were interviewed, many on live television, which really gave that relatively new medium a huge push. This was the first major event to be covered live on national television and millions tuned in to watch the live proceedings.
The broadcasts made the Kefauver committee a household name; in March 1951, 72 percent of Americans were familiar with the Kefauver committee’s work. Schools dismissed students to watch the hearings. Housewives neglected housework. Blood banks ran low on donations, prompting one Brooklyn Center to install a television and tune in to the hearings and donations shot up 100 percent. “Never before had the attention of the nation been riveted so completely on a single matter,” explained Life magazine. “The Senate investigation into interstate crime,” it concluded, “was almost the sole subject of national conversation.”
The reports that the committee ultimately put together were 11,000 pages long. The Final Report, which is what was most widely read was a little more than 200 pages.
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.
Tiffany Case is a smart lady. Naturally, her cigarette of choice would be Parliaments. Or at least that is what the advertising of that decade would’ve suggested.
In Diamonds Are Forever, as Bond and Tiffany arrive (together but separate) at Idlewild, Tiffany shows that she might be a little nervous.
THE customs officer, a paunchy good-living man with dark sweat marks at the armpits of his grey uniform shirt, sauntered lazily over from the Supervisor’s desk to where Bond stood, his three pieces of luggage in front of him, under the letter B. Next door, under C, the girl took a packet of Parliaments out of her bag and put a cigarette between her lips. Bond heard several impatient clicks at the lighter, and the sharper snap as she put the lighter back in her bag and closed the fastening. Bond felt aware of her watchfulness.
Bond references this incident when they are at dinner, in response to Tiffany’s teasing of him. He mentions the Parliament brand by name, and then a few minutes later, things are getting a little serious between them, and Tiffany needs to distract herself again.
She picked up her third Martini and looked at it. Then very slowly, in three swallows, she drank it down. She put down the glass and took a Parliament out of the box beside her plate and bent towards the flame of Bond’s lighter.
The “gimmick” with Parliaments was the recessed filter. The paper end of the cigarette extended about 1/4 inch past the filter, making a gap between the end of the cigarette and the filter. It was suggested that this was a “smart choice” because the smoker’s mouth would not touch the filter, and theoretically would not absorb as much tar from the cigarette.
In The Spy Who Loved Me, Vivienne Michel enjoys a Parliament while settling in for her planned evening alone.
Then I pulled the most comfortable armchair over from the reception side of the room to stand beside the radio, turned the radio up, lit a Parliament from the last five in my box, took a stiff pull at my drink, and and curled myself into the armchair.
In the final chapter of Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond is completing his assignment at the same location in which the novel opened.
The setting is much the same, the diamond smuggler at the start of the pipeline is awaiting the pickup of his stones from the next individual up the pipeline. But also waiting are James Bond and a small support team of three – a sound-detection operator, an officer from the Freetown Garrison Force and a Corporal, presumably from the same.
They have at their disposal an Army truck, along with the locator and the Bofors mounted beside it.
When the smuggler and his contact rendezvous, the smuggler is killed and the contact attempts to escape in the helicopter in which he arrived.
Bond hops on the Bofors.
Down among the low bush the truck stopped with a jerk and Bond leapt for the iron Saddle of the Bofors. “Up, Corporal,” he snapped to the man at the elevation lever. He bent his eyes to the grid-sight as the muzzle rose toward the moon. He reached to pull the firing selector lever off ‘safe’ and put it on ‘single fire’. ‘And left ten.’
‘I’ll keep feeding you tracer.’ The officer beside Bond had two racks of five yellow-painted shells in his hands.
Bond’s feet settled into the trigger pedals and now he had the helicopter in the centre of the grid. ‘Steady,’ he said quietly.
After two misses and an adjustment, Bond switches to ‘Auto Fire’ and does hit the helicopter in the tail section, sending it, and its pilot spiraling down to destruction.
Bofors was a Swedish arms manufacturing company, which manufactured the 40 mm anti-aircraft gun used here. They were immensely popular during World War II so much so that anti-aircraft guns in general were often referred to as Bofors.
When James Bond and Tiffany Case finally make it back to England after their adventures on the RMS Queen Elizabeth, Bond still has quite a bit work to catch up on to wrap things up on the job at the end of Diamonds Are Forever.
Bond is at Boscombe Down preparing to depart aboard a Canberra for Freetown when he talks to M on the phone.
The subject of Tiffany comes up.
‘Where is she now?’
The black receiver was getting slippery in Bond’s hand. ‘She’s on her way to London in a Daimler Hire, Sir. I’m putting her up in my flat. In the spare room,that is. Very good housekeeper. She’ll look after her until I get back. I’m sure she’ll be all right Sir.’ Bond took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat off his face.
Aside from the comedic aspect of Bond’s embarrassment in talking to his boss about Tiffany, we get the detail that Bond sent her home in a Daimler Hire. This was a prestigious chauffeur-driven limousine service, which no doubt impressed Tiffany as she was sent for her first meeting with May.
Originally an operation of The Daimler Company Limited, the service was sold, first to Thomas Tilling Ltd, and then to Hertz in 1958. The service kept its name until 1976.
The reference serves as another example of Ian Fleming inserting luxury into the narrative, which enriches the reading experience even more as you understand what he was referring to.
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.
An 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:
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.
The climax of Diamonds are Forever takes place on the cruiseliner RMS Queen Elizabeth. Built as a passenger cruise ship and launched in 1938, the ship was used during World War II as a troop transport before being refitted as an Ocean Liner following the war. This accounts for Bond’s thought:
Bond remembered the days when her course had been different, when she had zig-zagged deep into the South Atlantic as she played her game of hide-and-seek with the U-boat wolfpacks, en route for the flames of Europe.
Some other references in the narrative include:
But, as first Tiffany Case and then James Bond went into the mouth of the gangway, a dockhand from Anatasia’s Longshoremen’s Union had walked quickly to a phone booth in the customs shed.
I liked this reference, never really having considered the ramifications of it before. Anatasia was Albert Anastasia, who was one of the century’s most famous mob bosses. He also for a time had six local union chapters of the International Longshoremen’s Association in Brooklyn under his control. In the 1950’s the Waterfront Commission was set up to combat labor racketeering. It was said that the Gambino crime family, of which Anastasia was then the boss, controlled the New York waterfront.
It was a nice little touch by Fleming to include that detail, suggesting that the mob connections of the by then late (and fictional) Jack Spang had reached to the NY waterfront and that the boys of (real-life) Albert Anastasia were on the case.
The Queen Elizabeth was likely docked at Pier 90 of the Manhattan port, on what was known as Luxury Liner Row.
The scene that morning when Bond and Tiffany get on, might’ve looked similar to this.
Once the ship was ready to leave, they needed to navigate out of New York Harbor.
There would be a pause to drop the pilot at the Ambrose Light
After reflection on the wartime activity, Bond continues.
It was still an adventure, but now the Queen, in her cocoon of protective radio impulses-her radar; her Loran, her echo-sounder-moved with the precautions of an oriental potentate among his bodyguards and outriders, and, so far as Bond was concerned, boredom and indigestion would be the only hazards of the voyage.
We get a peek into the radio room, where signals are being composed and sent.
As the iron town loped easily along the broad Atlantic swell and the soft night wind thrummed and moaned in the masthead, the radio aerials were already transmitting the morse of the duty operator to the listening ear of Portishead.
We’ve already put up a post on the Metal Mike. (see below)
Other facts that we are given – Bond and Tiffany’s cabin were on M (Main) deck. W. Winter and B. Kitteridge had their shared cabin on A deck and they had an outside cabin as they had a window. Cabin number A49. Their cabin was First Class, as were Bond and Tiffany’s as well.
Bond’s cabin was conveniently located directly above the cabin of Mr. Winter and Mr. Kitteridge.
An eagle-eyed observer might figure out that cabin A49 on the Queen Elizabeth was actually an interior cabin, meaning no window.
John Griswold notes that the original manuscript of the novel had them in cabin B49 of the Queen Mary and the change in the ships may account for the seeming discrepancy.
James Bond makes a memorable entrance into the room of Wint and Kidd, surprising them by bursting through their open porthole
Following their dinner at the Veranda(h) grill James Bond and Tiffany Case head out for a little entertainment.
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. I’ve heard so much about it and we might make a fortune.”
“All right,” said Bond. “Anything you say.” He held her arm close to him as they sauntered through the big lounge where Bingo was still being played and through the waiting ballroom where the musicians were trying out a few chords. “But don’t make me buy a number. It’s a pure gamble and five per cent goes to charity. Nearly as bad as Las Vegas odds. But it’s fun if there’s a good auctioneer, and they tell me there’s plenty of money on board this trip.”
The smoking-room was almost empty and they chose a small table away from the platform where the Chief Steward was laying out the auctioneer’s paraphernalia, the box for the numbered slips, the hammer, the carafe of water.
Their path takes them through two other rooms as noted in the passage above. First the big lounge:
and then through the ballroom:
before arriving in the main first class smoking room.
A look at the deck plan below shows that once again, Fleming got the details right.
At the far right you can see the lifts, then they would’ve moved to the left in the diagram, going through the main lounge, then the ballroom, and finally into the smoke room, where the auction was being set up.
The auction pool scene, where they sell off numbers based on the Captain’s estimate of how far the ship will travel in the next 24 hours is really a fascinating bit of storytelling.
You have to wonder if Fleming was inspired by his friend Roald Dahl, who, in the January 19th, 1952 edition of The New Yorker, had published the short story Dip In The Pool. That story also involves an auction pool aboard a cruiseliner and a passenger betting on the “low” field and hoping to maneuver events to win the prize. The New Yorker was apparently a regular read for Fleming. He also got information on The Inspectoscope from the magazine.
The story also became an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, and if you watch it, the room in which that auction is held looks very much like this shot here of the Queen Elizabeth main smoking room.
Note the square pattern on the wall to the right and you’ll see the same thing in the AHP episode. The story could’ve been set on the RMS Queen Elizabeth.
Once again, I want to give credit for the awesome interior photos of the Queen Elizabeth to the rmsqueenelizabeth.com website. Worth a visit!