If you’re a James Bond or Ian Fleming fan, then you probably appreciate a well-made drink; just perhaps not in the bibulous daily amounts of Bond or Fleming!
Despite the reputation of James Bond as a vodka drinker, Ian Fleming – who was a known bourbon and gin drinker – toured the drinks cart comprehensively in his novels. Still today, between Fleming’s books up until the most recent – Solo by William Boyd – there have been many instances of a good cocktail from the classics to new creations.
Here are some of the best: please drink responsibly.
1. The Horse’s Neck
By the Second World War, the Horse’s Neck had become a favourite beverage to be served in the Officer’s Ward Room in the British Royal Navy; a replacement for the Pink Gin. James Bond himself drinks a double brandy and ginger ale whilst waiting in the VIP airport lounge in the book On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, whilst in disguise as Sir Hilary Bray and a Fellow of the College of Arms.
In ‘Octopussy’, Major Dexter Smythe drinks two stiff brandy and ginger ales for his elevenses, which he actually takes at 10:30am. The Major tells Bond “with the automatic smoothness of an alcoholic” that he prefers the ginger ale by itself. Fleming reflects that this beverage is “The Drunkard’s Drink”.
Not officially a cocktail from a Bond novel, but Dukes Bar in London feature a number of Bond themed drinks including the Fleming ’89, created by their Head Barman Alessandro Palazzi. Made in partnership with Floris, whose “89” cologne was worn by Bond and Fleming.
He uses Polish vodka in honour of Polish-born Christine Granville, a wartime spy, one of whom Fleming is said to have based the character of double-agent femme fatale Vesper Lynd. The ingredients include Tonka beans, chocolate bitters, Amber Vermouth and a Rose liqueur.
3. The Carte Blanche
In Jeffrey Deaver’s continuation novel, he comes up with a cocktail taking the same name as the novel – The Carte Blanche. This drink is essentially an update of an Old Fashioned using Crown Royal Whiskey, Triple Sec, Angostura Bitters and a twist of orange peel. During the release of the book in 2011, The American Bar at The Savoy were serving up this drink, but it’s unlikely you could order it now, so you might have to try making it at home.
Credit to Deaver for taking a break from the Vodka Martinis and bringing back the whiskey. Fleming would have approved.
4. The African Dry Martini
Continuing the tradition, William Boyd coined his own cocktail for Bond, which is a simple but powerful Gin-based cocktail called the African Martini. This is basically a Gin Rickey without the club soda.
In Solo, Bond is in the fictional African country of Zanzarim with former CIA agent Felix Leiter. They are in a bar in hotel the town known as Port Dunbar where Bond asks for Gin and is offered Gilbey’s or Gordon’s; he chooses Gordon’s Gin with half a squeeze of lime and ice. Perfect for those hot African nights, but you might want to soften it a bit by substituting the Gordon’s for a more mellow Gin. Bond drinks at least three of these and it beggars belief how he finished his mission.
5. Pink Gin
The Pink Gin, contrary to it’s effeminate name, requires a stiff upper lip, not seen since the British Empire. It’s simply Bitters and Plymouth Gin. Plymouth gin is a ‘sweet’ gin, as opposed to London gin which is ‘dry’, and was added to Angostura bitters to make the consumption of the bitters more enjoyable. This was a this staple of the officers’ wardroom and it provides some explanation as to how Britain ended up ruling one-fourth of the earth’s land surface.
Ian Fleming imbibed plenty of these with his friend Noel Coward; in The Man With The Golden Gun, when James Bond is introduced to the hoods at the Thunderbird Hotel he says: ‘Some pink gin. Plenty of bitters. Beefeater’s.’
6. The Stinger
This elegant looking sweeter drink is simply Brandy and white Crème de Menthe. This features heavily in Diamonds Are Forever, as Bond and Tiffany Case court in New York’s 21 restaurant and on the deck of the Queen Elizabeth headed back to England.
An American invention, Bond clearly did as the Romans do and also enjoyed this drink in the company of his old chum Felix Leiter in Thunderball. But certainly no green Crème de Menthe!
7. The Alexandra
This drink appears in the short story Risico, in which Bond’s ordering of this drink was a secret signal for his contact at a Excelsior Bar to recognise him by. 007 notes that this rather feminine drink was both a smart signal and more original than a folded newspaper or decorative buttonhole. Keep that in mind next time you need to make contact with your handler or make a dead drop.
8. The Negroni
One of the classic Gin-based cocktails – the Negroni contains equal amounts Campari and sweet vermouth. It also contains an equal measure of gin. In the short story Risico again, once Bond has made contact with Kristatos, he orders a Negroni and specifies “Gordon’s please.”
You could upgrade a little from Gordon’s if you appreciate your Gin. A close cousin of the Americano, this can also be enjoyed as a Whiskey Negroni or have a White Negroni, with a flowery Lillet standing in for sweet vermouth and a bitter Suze in place of Campari. That almost seems more Bondian!
9. The Americano
Possibly the most important drink in the Fleming novels, in terms of usage and appropriateness. Bond by his own admission, can’t function on Martinis the whole time. It’s a popular choice for him as someone that also needs to function as secret agent not a gadfly. The drink itself is Bitter Campari, Cinzano, a large slice of lemon peel and soda, which was popularized by Americans in Italy during prohibition.
In Casino Royale, while waiting for Mathis and Vesper, Bond enters the Hermitage bar, takes a seat by the windows, and orders an Americano. In Risico, while in Venice to meet Lisl Baum the next day, Bond orders an Americano at Florian’s. He drinks it twice in From Russia With Love, and again in From A View To A Kill at Fouquet’s in Paris. It’s a cocktail Fleming clearly enjoyed.
10. Black Velvet
This cocktail is British and mixes Stout (Often Guinness is the preferred choice) and Champagne – a beauty and the beast if ever I saw one. But it works. The drink was first created by the bartender of Brooks’s Club in London in 1861, to mourn the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s Prince Consort. It is supposed to symbolise the black or purple cloth armbands worn by mourners.
Diamonds are Forever Bond and Bill Tanner stop by the famous Scott’s in London for “dressed crab and a pint of black velvet.” Sounds delicious!
Tell us your favorite or suggest more!
Learn more about drinks from the novels over at Fleming’s Bond
Check out the authority on all Gins at the Summer Fruit Cup
Stop by the James Bond Dossier for more cocktails!