Beyond Carte Blanche – The Other Drinks from the New Bond Book

We’ve already covered the signature drink from the latest Bond book, Carte Blanche, but, in true Fleming style, the story is packed full of the finer details on a host of other drinks; some enjoyed by Bond and some by other characters. A few of these drinks are Stolichnaya Martinis; further details on these can be found here.

Whisky

Despite the Martinis, American Bourbon is Bond’s favourite spirit and he certainly shows this in Carte Blanche. Here are tasting notes for three of the varieties that he enjoys throughout the book.

Jim Beam

Bond and Leiter drink this whisky at various points, making it the most drunk drink in the book. Bond drinks his bourbon with a little water, but Leiter prefers his with “no ice, no water, no fruit salad, no nothing.”, adding that he wants a double, and “could live with a triple”. As the particular label that they drink isn’t specified in the text, I tried both Jim Beam White Label and their Black Label. Here are my tasting notes.

White Label

As James likes it…

The nose is light and fresh, with sweet vanilla, oak and hints of citrus. Soft, sweet caramel fades into a distinct hint of pear drops. In contrast to the nose, the taste was definitely not sweet, with strong, savoury wood notes and a subtle, gradually building warmth.

As Leiter likes it….

There’s a good amount of alcohol coming through the nose without the addition of water or ice; only a little caramel makes it through the raw alcohol and oak. The taste was surprisingly smooth, given the harsher nose, but it seemed distinctly spicier, almost slightly peppery, than with water. It was also much warmer, with a longer finish.

Black Label

Light/white wood notes and alcohol dominate. There is a hint of caramel, but the drink is never sweet; it’s more about the texture and strength profile of the whiskey. Good, straightforward and revitalising, with excellent warmth, this would definitely be good in cocktails, or – alternatively – to drink straight at the end of a long day over conversation.

Basil Hayden’s

This bourbon from Kentucky is what Bond keeps in his flat. In this book, he enjoys two fingers’ worth of the amber spirit in a glass with an ice cube.

The nose was sweet, with lots of wood notes: real, fresh wood. These faded into hints of creamy milk chocolate. It tasted very smooth and somewhat reminiscent of a Mint Julep, with a distinct freshness and sweetness after the initial oak. A light pepperiness results in a neat, clean and savoury finish.

Auchentoshan

Bond enjoys a dram of this Scotch Single Malt whilst undercover at the villain’s lair. As is noted at the time, the Auchentoshan Distillery is in the Scottish Lowlands, just outside of Glasgow. Although the exact whisky that Bond enjoys is not known, here are tasting notes for the Auchentoshan 12 Year Old, which is both good quality and good value for money.

The whisky has a rich nose with a hint of dried oats. It has a smooth, warm taste that’s quite rich, with notes of honey, oats and malt. This is quite a comforting dram with a smoky, vanilla finish. Bond enjoys his whisky with a little water – bottled, I imagine – and this tends to open up the spirit, making it less intense and more accessible. With this whisky, it adds complexity and mellows the spirit out.

Other Drinks

Constantia

Whilst Bond drinks his Auchentoshan, his host drinks Constantia, a sweet wine from South Africa that was a favourite of Napoleon. Vin de Constance is a bright, golden yellow and has a honeyed nose with citrus and a dry grape note, which reminds me of Lillet.

The wine’s texture is smooth and silky and, in terms of taste, an initial dryness leads to some sweeter honey notes, followed by the flavours of fresh, succulent and juicy grapes. There is a plummy jamminess towards the end and a hint of copper on the finish. Lightly chilled, this a crisp and refreshing drink and very pleasant to savour; it’s no wonder that Napoleon, Jane Austen and Severyn Hydt were all fans.

Cosmopoltian

Whilst it has roots in the 1960s, the Cosmopolitan was created in the 1980s by Cheryl Cook. The use of citrus vodka is essential.

  • 30ml Stolichnaya Citros
  • 15ml Triple Sec
  • 20ml Cranberry Juice
  • 5ml Fresh Lime Juice
  • Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

Whilst not typical fare for James Bond, this can still be quite a strong and tasty drink. Full of citrus flavours, the sweet Triple Sec is well-balanced by the dry cranberry juice and the tart lime. The use of Citros adds a pleasant spice note that you don’t get from other citrus vodkas. Smooth and refreshing, but I still think that Bond would generally stick to his bourbon.

Bombay Sapphire & Tonic

Bond’s man in South Africa helps himself to a couple of these from the mini bar. Whilst Bombay Sapphire is sold in the UK at 40%ABV, in South Africa (and the USA), it is sold at 47%. The higher strength gives the gin a dryer more peppery flavour.The tonic of choice was Schweppes.

This drink (see top for photo) was very refreshing, but also quite dry, with heavy juniper and herbal notes. For a Gin & Tonic, I found this to be intense and flavourful, with some hints of chocolate and powerful citrus at the end. This is definitely a different beast to the James Bond Gin & Tonic, but I can see how it would be attractive in the heat of a South African mission.

So there is a little finer detail on the drinks of the latest Bond book; let’s hope that the next novel has just as many tips and ideas as Carte Blanche!

David T Smith runs the blog Summer Fruit Cup, looking at all things related to drink and drinking. Topics covered include tasting and reviews, cocktail history and vintage bar-ware.

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