By the time of Thunderball, Ian Fleming tells us that Bond’s daily intake of spirits is around half a bottle. Like his creator, James Bond drinks a lot, hence his much needed stay in a health farm ordered by M.
However, unlike the popular belief that Bond drinks nothing but vodka martinis – shaken, not stirred – and champagne, the books in particular see 007 consuming a wide variety of drinks. These include martinis, with both gin and vodka, champagne, whisky, beer, saki, and a variety of cocktails.
The very first drink he orders, from 1953’s Casino Royale, is an Americano, a mixture of Campari, Cinzano and soda water and later in the same book he goes on to invent the Vesper, made with Kina Lillet, which he names after his love interest on the mission.
However, he is never to return to the Vesper, which he asks the barman to prepare when he first meets Felix Leiter, and the rest of the book sees him drinking chilled vodka and champagne.
Vodka and martinis
James Bond drinks chilled vodka with Vesper in Casino Royale to accompany caviar and while dining with M in Moonraker with smoked salmon. However, since Ian Fleming so often used brand names, it is also slightly curious that no vodka brand is named other than Wolfschmidt, which he orders on the latter occasion.
Also see: What vodka does James Bond drink?
During that same meal at Blades we learn that while in Moscow Bond picked up the habit of dropping a pinch of black pepper on the surface of the drink. Although this is supposed to take all the impurities to the bottom of the glass, he tells M he got to like the taste.
And while he drinks both gin and vodka martinis in the books (or in the case of the Vesper, gin and vodka) Fleming actually provides Bond’s own vodka martini recipe at the end of the second book, Live and Let Die.
As they recover from injuries sustained after being dragged across a reef, Solitaire mixes six parts vodka to one of vermouth, which she takes out to Bond in the garden. Served in a cocktail shaker, it is only implied that the drink is shaken; Bond finally requests this in Diamonds Are Forever, the fourth book (for more see The James Bond vodka martini and Shaken, not stirred: James Bond vs the martini world)
On many occasions throughout the books James Bond does enjoy a glass – or more likely bottle – of champagne. In Casino Royale he tells Vesper that Taittinger is “probably the finest Champagne in the world”.
Oddly, although perhaps because of what happens afterwards, he rarely orders Taittinger afterwards; in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service when he revisits Royale-les-Eaux and 007 In New York pink Taittinger is mentioned as an accompaniment to scrambled eggs. And when M tells him that Blades doesn’t stock Taittinger, Bond replies that it was just a fad anyway.
Whatever happened to Taittinger being the finest Champagne in the world? Bollinger is mentioned in a couple of books too, as are Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot, Krug and Pommery.
More than vodka martinis, literary Bond’s real drink is whisky. Being of Scottish descent you might find a preference for scotch whisky to be expected. However, while Bond does drink Scotch on many occasions, either straight or with soda, he actually consumes more bourbon, which he drinks both straight or with branch water, something introduced to him by Felix Leiter.
As usual with 007, the real answer to why this should be the case lies with Ian Fleming, who said – whether he believed it or not – that bourbon was better for him that scotch.
Beer and going local
While it is difficult to imagine the James Bond of the books ordering a pint of beer in a pub, he certainly does drink beer in the books. Miller High Life, Red Stripe and Löwenbräu are all name checked and on his stag party in Munich in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Bond downs four steins of beer with an ex-Luftwaffe pilot.
It is also notable that Bond often drinks whatever is local, something highlighted by the beer choices above. In Turkey he drinks Raki, which he finds identical with Greek Ouzo and Kavaklidere, “a rich course burgundy like any other Balkan wine”, while he drinks Chianti to accompany his pasta in Rome.
And there is just room for a mention of the gin and tonic, consistently a favourite in the UK and elsewhere. However, Bond’s G&T in Doctor No includes the juice of an entire lime, which creates quite a different drink altogether. Bond is also known to drink vodka and tonic, sometimes with angostura bitters.