James Bond’s drinks: Calvados

One of my favourite and most frequently used culinary insights from the James Bond books is the recipe for scrambled eggs from 007 in New York, originally from the US edition of Fleming’s collection of travel writing, Thrilling Cities.

Author of the new Bond book Solo, William Boyd, writes his book having been inspired by the style of Fleming’s prose, using similar plot devices from the original books. As such, it’s not surprising that he has incorporated a recipe into the book. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to try it.


James Bond’s Vinaigrette Recipe

  • 100ml red wine vinegar
  • 20ml extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ clove of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar

Mix well in a bowl with a small balloon whisk.

Remove garlic and then use.

At the end of this meal, Bond has a glass of Calvados. Now, the literary Bond has, of course, drunk Calvados before: in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he enjoys a glass of ten year old Calvados after half a roast partridge at one of his favourite restaurants in France, opposite the railway station in Étaples.

As we recently celebrated National Calvados Week, I decided to taste the dressing alongside some Pere Magloire VSOP (Bond does not specify a brand). This is a Pays d’Auge Calvados, which means that it has additional protections beyond those of Calvados alone: the cider from which the spirit is distilled must be fermented for at least six weeks, and the spirit has to be twice distilled. This should lead to a smoother, more refined spirit.

With of all that in mind, I decided to taste the salad and Calvados together. Straight away, you get a warm, rich scent of red wine vinegar from the dressing. This also comes through first on the taste, before the bright tang of the vinegar and mustard, which fades slightly as the smooth flavour of the olive oil comes through. Finally, there’s a lingering, peppery finish. Overall, this remarkably simple recipe does provide an excellent profile of flavour without being at all heavy.

As you finish the salad, the ratio of dressing to leaves increases, making the flavour stronger and more acidic with each bite. As such, the Calvados – which tastes comparatively sweet, whilst sharing some of the tartness in the form of its notes of spiced, baked apples – works superbly alongside the dressing. It balances out the tang and neatly rounds off the meal, making me wonder how something so simple can taste so refined; but then, of course, Bond knows what he’s talking about.

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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.

The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the website owner.

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