Shaken Not Stirred: The Drinking Habits Of 007 James Bond (And Why They Bought 8,400 Gallons Of Coca-Cola For ‘No Time To Die’)
by Ken Gargett
“I take a ridiculous pleasure in what I eat and drink,” James Bond says to Vesper Lynd in Ian Fleming’s first 007 novel, Casino Royale. And so starts the adventures, not solely libationary and culinary, of one of the great fictional characters in the world.
Big appetites were the order of the day back then, and 007’s were huge in every respect. And rarely has anyone, fictional or not, influenced the eating and drinking habits of humanity to the extent managed by MI6’s finest.
If I may allow myself a small digression before we get anywhere, my favorite moment in that first novel is when Bond returns from assignment and catches up with M’s secretary, Miss Moneypenny. Apparently, they have a tradition that he always brings her a present, the latest high-tech item available. The mind boggles as to what he could have found over the years. In Casino Royale, the latest high-tech item was a ballpoint pen. Feeling old yet?
Which provides a neat segue to changing times. In his first outing, Daniel Craig (my second favorite Bond, for what it is worth) proves himself a harder drinker than his predecessors with 12 drinks. One journo from Bloomberg rather callously described him as a “witless boozer” – very harsh (for the record, Timothy Dalton was positively abstemious in comparison). Not too many witless boozers get off on the 1982 Château Angelus or a bottle of Bollinger, let alone invent their own martini, the Vesper.
Many years earlier, the literary version of 007 in Casino Royale topped Mr. Craig with 13 drinks, including the Vesper, several vodka martinis (how many times must I say, “No gin, no martini”), plus various champagnes, including Veuve Clicquot and the 1943 Taittinger Blanc des Blancs (the forerunner to the spectacular Comtes des Champagne – the first vintage of that wine was 1952 and the book was published in 1953, which would have been years before the ’52 hit the market).
Bond describes this bottle of Taittinger as, “Probably the best in the world.”
This really kicked off the Blanc de Blancs fad in America. Good enough for Bond, it created the myth that Blanc de Blancs was the best champagne style – it is unquestionably wonderful but not necessarily better than others.
Bond also drank Taittinger in On her Majesty’s Secret Service as well as Krug. In other books, more Veuve, Veuve Rosé, and Pommery. Bollinger makes an appearance in Diamonds are Forever.
In Moonraker, he drinks the 1946 Dom Pérignon, which is interesting as it was never made. Worse? He drips Benzedrine, a form of amphetamine, into it. Bollinger first appears in the movies in Moonraker, when Bond crawls through Holly Goodhead’s window in Venice and spies an ice bucket. “Bollinger,” he quips. “If it is the ’69, you were expecting me.”
The ’46 Dom Pérignon was not his only error. In the film Diamonds are Forever, he claims to be able to pick 1851 as the year a sherry solera was started. If I may say politely: fat chance!
Bond does expose the villains at the end of the film when, posing as waiters, they do not realize that the 1955 Mouton is a claret (Basil Fawlty made a similar mistake, if I recall). In Goldfinger, he drinks a 1947 Mouton.
Bond’s champagne preference in the films has long been Bollinger although there were around seven times he drank Dom Pérignon, and in the early days it was Taittinger. The first reference to wine in any Bond film is in Dr. No when he tells the good doctor that he prefers the 1953 Dom Pérignon to the 1955 (the ’53 was also Marilyn Monroe’s favorite).
James Bond’s drinks in the movies
In the films, Bond averages a drink every eleven minutes. Not a bad pace.
Recent films have seen Heineken make several appearances, apparently through a rather lucrative product placement deal of a cool $45 million (just for one film)! You have to sell an awful lot of beer to cover that.
Sounds like the producers got away like bandits in their movies. The Macallan whiskies are also now featuring. Indeed, it was the legendary Macallan 1962 that was criminally wasted when shot from the head of the Bond girl du jour in Skyfall.
Bollinger? Many think the same, a product placement deal that is, and I’ll confess so did I until I had a chance to have a long chat with a friend from Bollinger at the release of Spectre. He assured me that the company does not spend a cent to have its champagne featured in the greatest film franchise series in history.
Seems that there was some sort of disagreement between the Dom Pérignon people and the Bond people – no idea over what – and so the Broccoli family behind the Bond films (and, yes, the family was responsible for the development of the vegetable and for its introduction into America), rang the Bizot family, who owns and runs Bollinger, asking for a lunch.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall (or a waiter sneaking glasses). As a small family operation, the Bond people decided that they had seen enough of big corporates and wanted to deal with another small family. A deal was struck. All Bolly needed to do was provide some three cases (from memory) for each film, but there is no say on exposure. It may be the briefest glimpse or fill the screen. Still, not a bad deal.
In the books (and I am only talking Ian Fleming, not those brought in to keep the series alive), Bond consumes 317 drinks and at a faster rate than in the films. In the books, he drinks champagne 65 times, bourbon 57 times (much more than in the films), whisky 42 (often as a scotch and soda), vodka martini 41, sake a surprising 37, cognac 24, and both gin and red wine 21.
Although he is yet to enjoy a gin martini (in other words, a proper martini) in the films, in the books he did so 19 times. There is an array of “others”: beers, cocktails, raki, Glühwein, and Irish coffee.
But why vodka? If not for Bond, would the “vodka martini” even exist? At the time Fleming was writing, anything Russian was taboo – Cold War and all. Vodka was very unpopular. It is believed that Fleming had Bond drink vodka as a way of thumbing his nose at the establishment.
The villains? They rarely drink in the books. Indeed, Fleming made a number of them teetotalers. No doubt a form of contempt.
James Bond: shaken not stirred
Of course, what look at Bond’s drinking habits would be complete without “shaken, not stirred” (one of the early books had it reversed, but I have never discovered if that was a misprint in that edition or if Fleming got careless).
One story suggests that “shaken, not stirred” was how Fleming liked his martinis and so that was passed on to 007. Many a bartender will insist that a better drink is achieved from “stirred, not shaken.” There was also that wonderful moment in Casino Royale when the screenwriters turned things on their head and had the bartender ask Bond whether he’d like it, “shaken or stirred.” “Do I look like a give a damn?” was the priceless response.
There is a theory that this famous phrase only came about because of a screenwriter’s error in swapping them. But this is a topic for another time. As is his food . . .
And as for No Time to Die, the latest instalment and presumably Craig’s last, due to hit screens later in 2021? Well, much to still be revealed, of course, but we do know that the producers spent £55,000 on 3,200 liters (8,400 gallons) of Coca-Cola. Why?
Not for drinking. It seems that they were having trouble with a bike scene in which the cobblestones were too slippery when Craig himself had an idea. They soaked the cobblestones on which the stunt motorbike was to land with Coke, making them much stickier. It worked perfectly and we’ll see the scene when the movie is released. An added bonus? The Coke apparently left the cobblestones much cleaner.
Things are changing in the world of 007. There are rumors that Bond will be drinking non-alcoholic Heineken in No Time to Die. Say it isn’t so!
One further sad fact on which to finish – well, sad for Mr. Craig. He is the only Bond to have more martinis than kisses!
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Little miscalculation with the gallons/liters? Seems weird to pay 17.xx per liter of coke especially if buying in bulk… Interesting article by the way!
Thanks for the comments, Tobia. you are spot on. 8,400 gallons is a touch closer to 32,000 litres than 3,000. sorry for the misprint. if my maths, never reliable, are correct then that would be around the 1.7 pounds per litre. To be honest, i have no clue what a litre of Coke costs but that still seems a bit expensive? perhaps the cost includes transportation? and possibly cleaning costs?
1.7 pounds does sound pretty expensive! Hopefully for them, it was all inclusive as you say…
It’s worth pointing out that the first drink James Bond ever orders is “Three measures of Gordons, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemonpeel” which he tries to call a “Vesper.”
Thanks, Seth. I did mention the Vesper but I failed to give it the significance due to it. I recently made my own version with half Fossey’s barrel-aged gin, half Dr. Strangelove Light Tonic, and the juice of a squeezed lime. I called it the Lada. Seemed appropriate. But I did enjoy it.
Ken, as always, learned and fascinating. My question – what mixers does he use, if any? I note your Lada had tonic, but given the books are big on brand-naming for all sorts of products in addition to alcohol, did he use mixers? Ever descend to naming them?
Sco, excellent point. I don’t recall ever seeing him descend to naming mixers although I’d be surprised if he didn’t. I tried googling but all I kept getting was the ‘cement mixers’, which was the name of Pussy Galore’s gang in Goldfinger. Club soda was about as specific as I could find.
If we think back to when we were kids, the folks just used Schweppes. I have no idea about other countries but here, it just seemed that there was Schweppes and no other. Not sure it was chosen for any other reason than it was the ubiquitous brand for tonic.
It is only in more recent times that we have realised that there is little point in using a top spirit and then dumping a second rate tonic or mixer in it. That has led to the emergence of specialty mixers and tonics like Dr Strangelove and Fever Tree.
Just to your point about tonic/club soda in our childhoods: in the U.S. I can safely confirm it was also Schweppes and nothing else that I can remember. In Germany I believe as well (that’s where Schweppes originates).
I find that Fever Tree and Bickman’s are good quality tonic. When the summer comes I tend to prefer a cold drink. The Botanist or Tanqueray No.10 gin, Bickman’s yellow and there is a wonderful type of New Zealand lemon that almost looks like a small orange.
I believe that every aspect of the “recipe” is important.
Thanks Tam. Agree. One wrong component and you can stuff up the entire thing.