This month, the 25th James Bond film, No time to die, will debut (after a year late due to Covid), with Daniel Craig back in the Aston-Martin for what he says is his last outing. So it seems both timely and a lot of fun to look back over seven decades to see how much of a geek, foodie, or foodie 007 was, or whether he was just temperamental or …crikey!-bought by the wine and spirits industry. Over the next few months, I’ll be browsing the books and movies to detail when and why Bond eats and drinks what he does, at least once exposing the ignorance of enemies who order bad wine.
“I take ridiculous pleasure in what I eat,” James Bond says in Ian Fleming’s 1953 book. Casino Royale. “Part of it comes from being single, but mostly from a habit of going to great lengths over details.” 007’s tastes were very specific when it came to their favorite drinks. His knowledge of vintages, the best bourbon, and the right temperature at which to drink sake were all important details. Indeed, Bond’s know-how and discriminating palate were essential to his allure as a socialite but never decadent male figure who said the perfect woman for him would be “someone who can make Béarnaise sauce as well as love ”, in Diamonds are forever (1956).
His favorite champagne was the 1945 Taittinger Blanc de Blancs, which he called “fashionable mine” in Casino Royale, even if it is not against a small Dom Pérignon, Veuve-Cliquot or Bollinger. In the cinema, Bond champagne houses are constantly evolving: from Russia with love (1963) it’s Taittinger; in Live and Let Die (1973) he ordered Bollinger; and in The man with the golden gun (1974) is Moët-Chandon; in Moonraker (1979) it’s Dom P.
Lest Bond be fickle about his champagnes in the movies, it should be noted that several of the champagne houses either paid promotional fees or provided sparkling refreshments for the film crew so that 007 ordered the label.
In the movie A sight to kill (1985) Bond prominently shows a bottle of Stolichnaya to a handsome spy he keeps enslaved inside an igloo in northeast Russia.
Bond had a huge effect on the sale of vodka around the world, thanks to his Martinis, which were deemed to be “shaken not agitated”. In the Casino Royale novel, it states “three measures of Gordon’s gin, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.” Shake it really well until it’s glazed, then add a big slice of lemon zest, get it? He later named this strange combination after Vesper’s character. In later books, he drops the gin, preferring a blend of six parts vodka to one of vermouth. Her favorite vodka is a vodka made from grains rather than potatoes. He favors Wolfschmidt.
Bond’s taste isn’t limited to champagne and vodka martinis. When he is in Europe, he will be able to order an Americano; in Rome, he does like the Romans, by ordering a Negroni. On mission in Tokyo in You only live twice (1967), he lets his colleague Tiger Tanaka guide him through the mysteries of sake. And in Greece, 007 drinks ouzo like they do with an ice-water hunter, while in Turkey, he’s having his first experience with anise raki. And in American waters, along with his CIA friend Felix Leiter, Bond drinks bourbon most often, pointing out Old Granddad, especially when he wants an Old Fashioned.
Bond doesn’t like Cognac very much, although he can order one in a cafe in Paris, and never drinks port or sherry. In one case, it seems unusual for Bond to end a meal of caviar and champagne with a sweet dart of vodka, as he does with Tiffany Case in Diamonds, a mixture of that might just confuse the mind of an inferior man.
Oddly enough, as Fleming kicked off his thrillers with gourmet meals – though still simple, not extravagant – Noël Coward said he dreaded being invited to Fleming Goldeneye’s home in Jamaica because, Coward said, he was a dirty cook.
In the movies, the writers have made food and drink leitmotifs that fans have come to expect, especially when Bond condescends his enemies’ choice of wine, as he does with Dr. No, who plans to torture Bond after dinner.
In the Bond films there always had to be a mention of the famous “shaken not stirred” Martini, so it was a shock to audiences when Daniel Craig, on his first outing in Casino Royale (2006), replies to a waiter who asks him if he wants his Martini not to shake, Bond replies – completely out of character – “Do I look like I don’t care? “
It has always seemed to me that Bond, more than any other fictional character, including a long list of foodies that range from Nero Wolfe to the Saint, played a huge role in getting men and women after 1960 to appreciate, to learning and appreciating good food and wine, which has not escaped the notice of the companies which have led the various Bond players to sell their products in paid advertisements.
Women found it appealing that Bond wasn’t a traditional hero who just spills whiskey like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe at every opportunity. Bond was handsome, immaculately dressed, brave, witty, and very sophisticated, and the female characters used 007 with his favorite foods and drinks.
Repartee, cars, guns and exotic locations have always been essential to the appeal of a hero like no other, who, in addition to his skill, never gets drunk and never falters in bed. . That, and the fact that in actual years Bond would now be almost a hundred years old, with a tin of caviar and a bottle of Taittinger champagne.