Octopussy & The Living Daylights: Food and Drink from the book

A deep dive into the food and drink from Ian Fleming’s final book, published posthumously in 1966.

The last of Ian Fleming’s books is Octopussy & The Living Daylights. Originally it contained two short stories but a third was added for the paperback edition and a fourth included added to more recent editions.

Three of these are atypical Bond stories but The Living Daylights is a complete Bond adventure in short story format and 007 in New York is notable as it contains the recipe for Scrambled Eggs James Bond.


In the first story of the collection James Bond plays a bit part. He’s been sent to Jamaica to confront Major Dexter Smythe about the death of Hannes Oberhauser in Austria towards the end of World War 2. Bond had stayed with Oberhauser after being orphaned and learnt to ski from him. Most of the story is taken up with Smythe recounting the events. When Bond arrives at Smythe’s house he is offered a drink but – remarkably – declines.

Smythe is an alcoholic though and drinking himself to death after suffering two heart attacks. He is in much the same state as Ian Fleming at this stage of his life. Punctually at 10:30 he pours himself “the first of two stiff brandy and ginger ales” which he calls The Drunkard’s Drink. When Bond arrives he offers him a rum and ginger, “the local poison”, telling Bond he prefers the ginger by itself.

In a flashback describing the events that led to Oberhauser’s death we learn the Austrian has brought some soldat in his pocket to eat. “Smoked meat. Very tough but good”, he explains. It turns out to be something like pemmican. After killing Oberhauser Smythe eats the soldat, which turns out to be “a real mountaineer’s meal – tough, well-fatted, and strongly garlicked”. He picks bits from between his teeth and spits them on the ground but then with his intelligence head on picks up them up and swallows them.

The Living Daylights

The second story in this collection is a real James Bond adventure. It opens with Bond at the shooting range at Bisley where he is testing a sniper rifle ahead of his assignment in Berlin. After trying out the gun he tells the range officer “I’d like to buy you a drink, but I’ve got an appointment in London”. He speeds to London Airport (now London Heathrow) in his Bentley “so as to have plenty of time for a drink, three drinks, before the takeoff”. He is taking a BEA flight to Hanover and Berlin. A double agent loaded with Russian atomic secrets has made it as far as East Berlin and will make the dangerous crossing to the West on one of three evenings between six and seven. He has the KGB on his tail including a sniper known as Trigger.

When Bond arrives in the Berlin flat overlooking the no man’s land between East and West Berlin prior to the Wall being built he is greeted by the local station’s number 2. Captain Paul Sender is ex-Welsh Guards and Bond takes an instant dislike to him. He shows Bond around the flat. The kitchen has been stocked with unspecified tinned food as well as milk, butter, eggs and bread. There is also a bottle of Dimple Haig.

He wakes at noon and cooks himself a “vast dish of scrambled eggs and bacon, which he heaped on buttered toast and washed down with black coffee into which he had poured a liberal tot of whisky”.

Afterwards he heads out and walks the glum streets to the Café Marquardt on Kurfürstendamm where he drinks an espresso while deciding how to pass the afternoon. It falls down to the choice between a brothel and a walk in the forest beside lake Wannsee. In the end he chooses the latter.

After a hard two hour walk he stops at a restaurant “with a glassed-in veranda above the lake” and orders “a double portion of Matjeshering, smothered in cream and onion rings, and two Molle mit Korn” – that’s pickled herring accompanied by schnapps washed down with draught Lowenbrau.

Bond returns to the flat around 5pm where he and Sender keep watch for any sign the double agent is making the crossing. While there is no sign of agent 272, Bond watches as a female orchestra arrives to rehearse and is taken by the tall blonde cellist. Later he spies Trigger in the darkness of a building on the opposite side. At 7:30 Bond watches as Trigger’s Kalashnikov is withdrawn. It’s over for the night. After showering he has “two large whiskeys-on-the-rocks in quick succession” and listens to the music drifting across no man’s land.

Fleming tells us that the next day was pretty much the same but by the third day Bond’s nerves have really got to him. The day is “an almost lunatic program of museums, art galleries, the zoo, and a film” but he takes nothing in, his mind occupied by the girl and the sniper he will have to kill that night.

Returning to the flat Bond has “stiff drink of the whiskey” despite Sender trying to stop him and threatens to report him.

That night agent 272 finally appears just after six. When Bond sees Trigger take aim he sees that rather than the man he had expected the sniper to be, it is the blonde cellist. Unnerved, Bond aims at her gun rather than making a kill shot. Sender notices this and confronts Bond, who pours himself a glass of whisky.

“You had clear orders to exterminate Trigger”, he tells Bond.

“Scared the living daylights out of her. In my book, that was enough”, he responds.

The Property of a Lady

This is  the one story in which not only does James Bond not eat or drink, but no one else does either.

007 in New York

007 in New York was added to Octopussy & The Living Daylights in the early 2000s. Originally it had been published as Agent 007 in New York in the New York Herald Tribune and as 007 in New York in the US Edition of Fleming’s Thrilling Cities travelogue.

While Bond doesn’t actually eat or drink in the story, most of it concerns his reflections of New York after having just flown in. He is being driven by Carey Cadillac – Fleming’s original title was Reflections in a Carey Cadillac – and thinks about the city’s neighbourhoods restaurants, hotels and shops.

He is feeling queasy from the BOAC “English Country House Breakfast” as he thinks about the breakfast available in the modern day New York hotel – “the thin coffee, the almost blue-white boiled eggs for breakfast” and “dank toast”. We also learn that at one point Bond had a small apartment in New York and “tried everywhere to buy brown eggs until finally some grocery clerk had told him, ‘We don’t stock ’em, mister. People think they’re dirty’”.

He has a date with Solange for dinner and plans on “Lutèce in the sixties, one of the great restaurants of the world”.

But lunch on his own isn’t so easy. He doesn’t want to dine at “21” (the 21 Club) because “the expense-account aristocracy had captured even that strong-hold” with the effect of higher prices for lower quality food. All the same, “for old times’ sake”, he decides to go there for a couple of dry martinis at the bar made with “Beefeaters with a domestic vermouth, shaken with a twist of lemon peel”.

He considers the Oyster Bar at Grand Central for “the best meal in New York”, namely oyster stew with cream, crackers, and Miller High Life but decides he’d prefer to eat more comfortably and read the paper rather than sitting up at a bar.

Finally he decides on a corner table at The Edwardian Room at the Plaza – “They didn’t know him there, but he knew he could get what he wanted to eat” where he’d have another dry martini then smoked salmon and “the particular scrambled eggs he had once (Felix Leiter knew the head-waiter) instructed them how to make”. Yes, James Bond can cook and Ian Fleming even gives the recipe for Scrambled Eggs James Bond!

He decides on The Edwardian Room over Chambord or Pavilion because of “their irritating Wine and Foodmanship” – especially the latter because of “the miasma of a hundred different women’s scents to confound your palate”. Not that he trusts The Edwardian Room’s smoked salmon. “It used to be Scotch in the Edwardian Room, not that thickly cut, dry and tasteless Canadian stuff. But one could never tell with American food.

After dinner he’d like to find “that bar, again still undiscovered, which Felix Leiter had told him was the rendezvous for sadists and masochists of both sexes. The uniform was black leather jackets and leather gloves. If you were a sadist, you wore the gloves under the left shoulder strap” because “it would be fun to go and have a look”.

But he considers it more likely they’ll “go to The Embers or to hear Solange’s favourite jazz” before calling it a night.

In the end none of this actually happens as his rather modest mission goes wrong. But perhaps he was able to indulge himself before returning home.

David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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