The Peugeot 403 is featured in From A View To A Kill, first when James Bond is sitting in a Paris cafe, and Mary Ann Russell comes to find him.
A battered black Peugeot 403 broke out of the centre stream of traffic, cut across the inside line of cars and pulled in to double park at the kerb. There was the usual screaming of brakes, hooting and yelling.
Russell says she bought the car cheap, and other drivers give her a wide berth on the roads due to the bashed-about look of the car.
After his meeting with Head of Station F, Bond is lent use of the car for the duration of his assignment. It is referred to by model twice more in the story, as Bond leaves from the meeting, and later when after he talks with the dog handlers and goes to follow up a lead.
The 403 was manufactured by the French auto maker between 1955-1966. For Your Eyes Only, the collection of stories in which From A View To A Kill appears was published in 1960. We can conclude that it was an early (battered) model 403 that Fleming was describing here.
The 403 was also the car of the television detective Columbo. A look at Inside Columbo’s Car can tell you almost all you want to know about the 403.
This is the drink that James Bond orders for Rene Mathis when the latter introduces him to Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale.
This drink – just cognac (or Brandy) with water – is a simple drink which was once very popular:
The most popular way to drink Cognac used to be the “Fine à l’eau” until World War II. Take a measure of Pierre de Segonzac Prestige, pour in 3 measures of pure water and that’s it : contrary to a popular belief, water gives you the chance to appreciate aromas during the first ten minutes.
You can also use sparkling water as well. A brandy and soda is a fairly frequently ordered drink in the Bond novels.
Later, in From A View To A Kill, Bond is sitting outdoors at a French café pondering his libation options, lamenting that outdoors on pavement is not a place for serious liquor like vodka, whisky or gin. He considers other options, including the fine a l’eau.
A fine a l’eau is fairly serious, but it intoxicates without tasting very good.
Makes you wonder why he ordered the drink for Mathis if this was his opinion of it.
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.
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.