It was revealed this week that Belvedere vodka would be one of the promotional partners for SPECTRE, although the amount they are paying for that privilege has not been disclosed. The brand is looking to use 007 to create global brand awareness and promote itself as a premium product.
Of course, Belvedere is not the first vodka brand to be linked to James Bond and not one I’d come across (not that that means anything). In this article I take a look at the vodka brands associated with 007.
Going back to the books it is slightly strange to find that despite 007 being so strongly linked with vodka there is only one brand ever mentioning throughout the books, in Moonraker.
That brand is Wolfschmidt, which never appears in the films and the nearest he gets to mentioning any other brand is in Casino Royale, when he tells the barman, after ordering his Vesper Martini, that it would be even better if made with Russian or Polish vodka made from grain.
Vodka brands in the films
Going away back to Dr No, it was Smirnov linked to 007, and the bottles of Smirnoff can be seen clearly in that film and several others. Whether that link was formal I don’t know, however Smirnov did later become an official partner of James Bond films.
It was slightly strange therefore to see that Smirnov was not involved with Skyfall, since it is the brand most associated with 007 and, after all, at the same fifty-year history as the films. While Heineken was widely discussed in the media, and even now the papers are reporting unbonded switching back to vodka martinis after drinking Heineken in Skyfall, the truth is he drank one Heineken and he drank a lot of whiskey and he drank vodka martini in the casino scene. Doesn’t anybody watch?
Anyway, here are the vodka brands I’ve identified from all the films – please leave a comment if you think I’ve missed something:
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Dr No: Smirnoff makes its 007 debut in Dr No, when James Bond is served a vodka martini in his hotel room in Jamaica; a bottle of Smirnoff Red can be seen in this scene. Later, after returning from Puss Feller’s where he meets Felix Leiter and Quarrel and finding his room broken into in his absence, Bond decides against the Smirnoff Red after sniffing it and suspecting it poisoned and instead opens a draw and pours himself a glass of the Smirnoff Blue it takes from it. And later at Miss Taro’s Bond pours two glasses from a bottle of the Blue, while awaiting the arrival of Professor Dent.
Thunderball: Bond mixes himself a vodka martini on the rocks in a tall glass in his hotel room made from Smirnoff Blue and Cinzano.
Octopussy: A bottle of Smirnoff Blue is seen in Octopussy’s living quarters when Bond visits her from which she mixes him a martini.
Goldeneye: Valentine Zukovsky pours himself, but not 007, a glass of Smirnoff Black.
Tomorrow Never Dies: Bond is drinking Smirnoff Red in his hotel room in Germany when Paris Carver arrives.
The World Is Not Enough: Bond once again meets Valentine Zukovsky, who this time serves him a drink, again the Smirnoff Black.
Casino Royale: Smirnoff Red can be seen in the Casino bar in the background.
Quantum of Solace: Flying to Bolivia with René Mathis, Bond downs six Vespers. A bottle of Smirnoff Black can be seen in the bar.
After appearing so frequently in the film series over 50 years it was something of a surprise to find Smirnoff did not appear in Skyfall and no other vodka brand was involved as a promotional partner.
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You Only Live Twice: It is therefore somewhat surprising to find that it wasn’t until Sean Connery’s fifth outing as 007 that Bond is served a Russian vodka; Dikko Henderson serves a “stirred, not shaken” vodka martini made with Stolichnaya.
A View To A Kill: After escaping with the microchip Bond makes his escape in a mini-sub, which has luckily been fitted out with a bar containing a bottle of Stoli.
The Living Daylights: Kara mixes 007 a vodka martini but he fails to notice it has been spiked with chloral hydrate and collapses into unconsciousness.
Licence To Kill: The brand can been seen at the end of the film when Bond is talking to Leiter on the phone, although he doesn’t actually drink it.
Stolichnaya has been my go to brand for many years. I visited St Petersburg in Russia in February 1997 when it was seriously cold and learnt three important things:
- It is an incredibly beautiful city but very cold at that time of year.
- It is almost impossible to get a decent meal no matter where you go to eat.
- You’ll be served vodka wherever you go and whatever the time of day, often Stoli.
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Die Another Day: When Smirnoff out of the picture for Pierce Brosnan’s fourth (and what was to be final) Bond film Finlandia stepped in as a promotional partner and appears in the Ice Palace bar scene, which it is well stocked with the vodka brand.
This proved to be a one off deal though and Smirnoff was back in Casino Royale.
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Skyfall: Although not an official partner, Bond’s martini in the Golden Dragon Casino is made with Grey Goose vodka.
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SPECTRE: Watch this space.
The literary James Bond would approve of Belvedere though, as it is made from rye grain; however, if there are any commercial vodkas made of potatoes these days, I don’t know of them. Without having tasted the product, what I like about the brand is:
- They are promoting the idea that vodka does have a taste (otherwise why go for an expensive vodka when the supermarket own brand tastes the same?).
- They are clear that it is up to the customer whether the drink is shaken or stirred, something I’ve been saying for a long time now.
Although we won’t know until next November how much screen time this premium vodka gets, there will be 007 and SPECTRE branded bottles available to coincide with the film.