David T Smith celebrates Live and Let Die’s 50th anniversary with a look at locations and drinks.
This week is the 50th anniversary of the UK release of 1973’s Live and Let Die, Roger Moore’s first film as agent 007. Rather than pick the film apart scene by scene – after all, you might as well just watch it yourself – I thought I’d focus on a few thoughts around the film that you may or may not previously considered.
Like many of Bond’s outings, Live and Let Die spans a range of locations. Jamaica doubles for San Monique and other scenes were shot in New Orleans and Louisiana, although much has changed since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. On a recent trip to New York, I visited three of the film’s locations that were not too far off the beaten track.
The UN building (officially known as the United Nations Secretariat Building) is easy to find and is the first shot of the film with the FDR Drive highway running in the foreground. FDR Drive is the highway that Bond and his driver, “Charlie”, take before Charlie is killed by a poisonous dart. Whilst there have been some improvements to the area, it still looks surprisingly similar 50 years on.
The highway takes you around the shore of Manhattan until you exit onto the junction of Queen Street and Broad Street, where Bond’s car careens over some steps before finally coming to a stop in Broad Street [15m:50s].
There are no longer any phone booths or garbage cans, and one side of the steps has been converted into a street-level lift, nevertheless you can still get a good feel for the scene.
As a location, this is relatively easy to get to: it’s right by the Governors Island Ferry and only a short walk from the Statue of Liberty Ferries and the beginning of Broadway. If you’ve never done a walk up Broadway, it’s a great way to see the many sights and different styles of buildings that New York has to offer. We took a leisurely stroll all the way up to Central Park.
Speaking of Central Park, to the east of the park, a block or two from Central Park Zoo, is 33 East 65th Street (the address is actually given in the film), which is where the exterior shots of the Oh Cult Voodoo Shop [18:00] were filmed. Today, it’s a rather expansive beauty salon. However, next door at number 27 is a rather lovely French-style brasserie, “Match”, which is perfect for a spot of lunch or a glass of pastis and a coffee, which leads me nicely onto….
There’s no rating system (yet!) for how exciting individual James Bond films are in terms of drinks and the brands that feature in them, but Live and Let Die must certainly be in the top half, despite the lack of a single Vodka Martini. This helps to distinguish the new Moore era of Bond, as it was very much seen as a Connery drink, ordered “shaken, not stirred”. In addition, Bond does not find himself at any of the swanky hotel bars, casinos, or high end nightclubs where he’d typically order one. Instead, most of the drinking takes place at Fillet O Soul restaurants. At the first, in New York, Bond orders a bourbon and water, neat with no ice [22:57]. As the waiter tells him, “That’s extra, man.”
Later on in the film [01:10:00], Bond and Felix Leiter order two Sazeracs in the New Orleans branch of Fillet O’Soul. Bond initially repeats his order of “Bourbon, no ice.” (after all, he never got to finish it in New York), but Leiter persuades him otherwise.
The Sazerac (which deserves an article in its own right) is typically a rye whiskey-based cocktail with similarities to an Old Fashioned, but with three notable differences:
- Peychaud’s Bitters are used instead of Angostura, although I personally prefer Bitter Truth’s Creole Bitters, which are probably closer to what Peychaud’s tasted like originally.
- Before the drink is added, the glass is rinsed with absinthe (Bond certainly gets his fill of anise in this film!).
- No cherry and orange garnish – this is served naked (no garnish).
The result is a drink with intensity of flavour where each of the ingredients are in harmony with each other. It’s also just a tad more bracing and, perhaps even more refreshing, than a typical Old Fashioned.
Finally, whilst playing cards on the sleeper train back up to New York [01:56:00], Bond and Solitaire are enjoying coffee and after-dinner brandy in small glasses. Whilst it’s difficult to tell the specific brand, the gold mesh around the bottle indicates that it is probably Spanish – possibly Mendoza, but that’s not 100%. If taking part in a film drink-along, I tend to actually go for an Old Fashioned at this point, as mentioned in the book.
An honourable mention should also be made for the opening scene in Bond’s apartment. Whilst Bond is making M a cup of coffee, we get a quick glance – [09:09] and [09:59] – of some bottles on the left hand side: two of these appear to be Bollinger, alongside a bottle each of red and white wine (in a cradle), and perhaps a bottle of brandy. There is also a sandwich toaster and a bottle of Pernod Pastis, or as it is now known, “Anise Spirit Drink”.
Pastis is typically drunk with the addition of enough chilled water to turn the drink cloudy – or “louche”. With Pernod, this usually happens around two parts water to one part spirit. Ricard is another brand of pastis that doesn’t feature here, but is enjoyed in the bath by Daniel Craig when he plays Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
Incidentally, in Bond’s sitting room there is also a small decanter with a dark red liquid in it (possibly sherry or port), and a larger one on a side table by the television that, on balance, would most likely contain a brandy of some sort, but there is no real way of knowing.
Drink- & eat-along
Combining the above observations, I’ve come up with a little drink- and eat-along for the film. This is meant as a bit of fun and takes some literary liberties.
00:05:00 Titles Sequence / Bond’s Apartment
Pernod & Water, Black Coffee
If you were peckish, you could have some 007 scrambled eggs as detailed in Fleming’s short story, 007 in New York, which seem fitting at this point. Alternatively, you could make yourself a toasted cheese sandwich as if you’d used Bond’s toastie maker.
00:23:00 (optional) Fillet O Soul – New York City
Bourbon and water (no ice)
01:10:00 Fillet O Soul – New Orleans
01:56:00 Train journey to New York
Old Fashioneds and, if you fancy something else to eat, chicken sandwiches as mentioned in Fleming’s novel Live and Let Die.
Free monthly newsletter
Get the latest on Bond 26 and other James Bond news by email.
No thanks, I'm not interested in news about 007