Bond: Bored and Boozy James Bond.
August 31, 2002 9:06 PM   Subscribe

Bond: Bored and Boozy James Bond. John Lanchester, in an insightful essay for the (beautifully redesigned) London Review of Books, counts (and staggers at) the amount of booze Ian Fleming's alter ego got through in a single day. He needn't have bothered: there's a delightful, knowledgeable and fanatical website, called Make Mine An 007 that does little else but tally up every drink that passes Agent 007's (or his enemys') lips, in his novels and in his films; listing the brands, the recipes and even totting up the glorious, final statistics.[More inside]
posted by MiguelCardoso (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Cocktail-lovers and discriminating lushes will be quite rightly shocked by the numerous alcohol-related mistakes in the Fleming canon. Starting with his signature Vodka Martini which is classically stirred, never shaken. Which is why the shaken (deeply misguided) version is nowadays known in decent bars as a James Bond. Is it any wonder Fleming never got past his 56th birthday, making and mixing his drinks like this? Still, here's looking at the old devil and all he stood and slumped for!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:06 PM on August 31, 2002

Just to say that, grammatically, only the UK pronunciation of Oh-Oh-Seven is coherent in the above phrase 'Make Mine An 007'.

A typically well-crafted post, thanks, Miggy!
posted by dash_slot- at 9:15 PM on August 31, 2002

The first step to recovery is to admit that you have a problem.

"My name is Bond. James Bond...and I'm an alcoholic."
posted by fatbobsmith at 9:42 PM on August 31, 2002

You did this just to taunt me, I know you did Miguel. ;) Ah well, I'll be able to have a martini again...someday...

And shaking the martini...*shudder*...bruises the gin, don't you know...none of the best martini drinkers would have it. Bleh!

Yea gods, I miss martinis on the patio before dinner, a good red wine with my steak and a cognac after dinner...yes, yes I do.
posted by dejah420 at 9:50 PM on August 31, 2002

I've never had a martini of either variety so I can not attest to the accuracy of this article, but Unca Cecil has never steered me wrong before.

The article in question is written by a Straight Dope staffer and not the World's Smartest Man himself, but it lives up to the high standards that I've come to expect from the SD organization. Long story short, dejah seems to have the science on his side. You do shake a vodka martini.

At least that's the story that I'm sticking to. As I said, I really wouldn't know. I do know not to shake my preferred drink - unlike these idiots.

Excellent post. Thanks.
posted by stuart_s at 10:07 PM on August 31, 2002

Friends, let me repeat Kingsley Amis for you. *goes to bookshelf*. Ah, here it is:

"[the main role of vodka] is to replace gin in established gin drinks for the benefit of those rather second-rate persons who don't like the taste of gin, or indeed that of drink in general. Anbody who calls for a vodka and tonic in my hearing runs the risk of that imputation. Other such gin-derived drinks are the Moscow Mule (vodka and ginger beer) and the Vodka Martini. This last is a softened version of the orthodox Dry Martini..."

He goes on to say:

"The best Dry Martini known to man is the one I make myself for myself. In the cold part of refrigerator I have a bottle of gin and a small wine-glass half-full of water that has been allowed to freeze.

When the hour strikes I half fill the remaining space with gin, flick in a few drops of vermouth, and add a couple of cocktail onions, the small, white, hard kind. Now that is a drink."

In drinking as in so many other areas, I am afraid Bond offers a poor role model. (Not that Amis the man was a great one, but that is another story).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:21 PM on August 31, 2002

Uncle Cecil is right, stuart. But vodka martinis shouldn't be shaken either. They should be stirred.

There's a new method, popularized by Salvatore Calabrese of the Lanesborough Hotel in London, which he calls the direct vodka martini. I think it's just laziness and expediency talking (comes from working behind a crowded bar) but I've tried it and it's...well...acceptable.

All you do is keep the vodka and glasses in the freezer, then add a drop of vermouth. If you're effete you can use an atomizer. The important bit is the twist. You want a swathe of lemon peel, freshly cut off from a freshly picked lemon, with no pith (white stuff). You then twist it over the martini so minuscule drops of lemon oil are scattered, floating, on the surface. Purists never drop the lemon peel in the martini. A real martini should be clear, very cold and clean.

If it's an olive, it's an olive. In that case, they should be soaked in vermouth, in the fridge, for two weeks. Though it shouldn't be, not for purists. I usually serve my martinis, whether gin (real martinis) or vodka (kindergarten martinis), with a small bowl of nice big green Manzanilla olives (unpitted and unstuffed) on the side.

The reason martinis shouldn't be served "direct" is that, for all the talk about martinis being an excuse to drink neat gin, the truth is that some water (from the dilution of the ice) is desirable, specially if the gin is 40-47ยบ (British) proof.

Also the twiddling of a good stirrer spoon (the Bonzer brand is legendary and lasts several lifetimes) allows for the gin to open up - which it never does if served straight from the freezer.

My method is to fill a mixing glass with seven or eight very fresh cubes of ice, spill some extra dry vermouth (Noilly Prat is best), swill it round four times and then throw it out. I then add the gin (warm gin) and stir it with the icecubes till the mixing glass frosts over - and then some.

I then pour it into a well-chilled martini glass, carefully cut off a generous slice of lemon peel (I stress again how crucial it is to cut closely, to avoid the pith); spray it over the surface - and drink while it's still smiling at me.

Oh - and dejah is a she, by the way. The reason she's not drinking at the moment is she's about to have a baby and wants it to have every advantage it can at the start of life, the better to enjoy those martinis on the patio later on...

[on preview] Joe's spleen - you're quite right, Kingsley Amis was wrong too. The British are probably the worst cocktail-makers and appreciators in the world - they're really only into them for the alcohol. In any case, if it has onions it's not a Martini, but a Gibson. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:43 PM on August 31, 2002 [1 favorite]

Serving a Gibson in a wine glass with onions and a big block of ice and calling it a Martini says a lot about British excellence in cocktails. And Kingsley Amis, bless him, was regarded as a great expert...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:46 PM on August 31, 2002

Miguel is my alco-Yoda.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:55 PM on August 31, 2002

Such a cool thread. And it's good to see what John Lanchester is up to these days. His first novel, The Debt To Pleasure is one of my all-time favorites. Well worth a read.
posted by Vidiot at 11:38 PM on August 31, 2002

I have nothing to add to this lovely thread but a recommendation of the "Burnt" Martini, which adds a drop or two of scotch to the classic gin Martini. Add vermouth to taste or leave it out altogether.
posted by timeistight at 12:42 AM on September 1, 2002

Also the twiddling of a good stirrer spoon (the Bonzer brand is legendary and lasts several lifetimes) allows for the gin to open up

This reminds me of audiophiles who swear they hear a difference between standard cables and the fancy $100+ oxygen-free copper cables. I'm prepared to admit that perhaps there are some who can tell whether their martini has been shaken or stirred, but I refuse to consider the possibility that anyone can tell what type of stirrer was used in a rigorous blind taste-test. I'd put money on it.
posted by kindall at 1:01 AM on September 1, 2002

So, what it all really comes down to after all, is a deep and irrevocable schism between the "movers" and the "shakers". How refreshing!
posted by taz at 1:22 AM on September 1, 2002

Once I tried to tally up all the drinks consumed in "The Sun Also Rises", but I found it impossible. When I tried to see if anyone had already done it, I came across this, an article that focuses on writers and alcohol. An article that sums itself up in the sentence: Sometimes it seems that no American writers escaped the bottle. (I suppose it's pretty much all the same all over the world.) Hardly a staggering revelation, but an interesting read nonetheless.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:09 AM on September 1, 2002

You got me there, kindall!

Actually a Dry Martini, though the coolest cocktail of all, is probably the cheapest and easiest to make.

You don't need a mixing glass - any large glass will do. You definitely don't need a Bonzer stirrer (though *cough* they are grooved, to make twiddling easier, only cost about 10 bucks and do add to the pleasure ) - a clean chopstick will do.

All you need, apart from the martini glasses, is a good gin and a little vermouth. I'd say each perfect Martini - as delicious as the best money can buy - comes in at less than a couple of bucks.

Andy Warhol's aphorism - that the rich can't buy a better Coke - is actually better applied to the Martini. The rich can import their Coke from Mexico in cute little bottles. But they cannot get a better Martini than any fastidious bum with the price of a bottle of Plymouth, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater or any other crisp, well-made gin and any old refrigerator.

(I was going on to say it was probably the supreme symbol of egalitarian democracy before realizing kindall might still be reading this...)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:12 AM on September 1, 2002

Five words: Withnail and I Drinking Game.
posted by riviera at 5:22 AM on September 1, 2002

BARMAN: Time please gents.
Withnail: Alright we're going to have to work quickly. A pair of quadruple whiskies and another pair of pints please.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:38 AM on September 1, 2002

All right, if you're gonna start that: We used to play the "Hi Bob" drinking game at U of Texas. We'd watch an episode The Bob Newhart Show accompanied by copious supplies of adult beverage of choice. Every time a character said "Hi, Bob!" we'd take a drink. Last person to pass out wins.
posted by alumshubby at 7:12 AM on September 1, 2002

Now it will be James B.
imagine his open talk.
as usual, miguel gold.
(i'm beginning to see a pattern:)
posted by clavdivs at 8:06 AM on September 1, 2002

Four words: i_am_riviera's_liver

Help me! Help me, please...

Great movie & soundtrack, too, it must be noted.
posted by y2karl at 8:35 AM on September 1, 2002

posted by y2karl at 8:54 AM on September 1, 2002

I have a copy of THE BOOK OF BOND (circa 1965) which not only lists every drink Bond has, but also how you should dress, smoke, and act as well. Small review here, but a better reference can be found here:
My recommendations are in the highest possible degree authentic, i.e. they constantly refer to the published adventures of 007. All such references are signified marginally (in the margins of the book) by the initials of the title of the relevant adventure followed by the number of the relevant chapter; thus FRWL 6 refers to From Russia With Love chapter 6. In the case of For Your Eyes Only, the number signifies the relevant episode within the volume, thus FYEO 1 refers to `From a View to a Kill`. To assist recognition a complete list of the adventures of 007 is to be found at the end of this manual." Here is the list of the chapters in the book, DRINK, FOOD, SMOKES, LOOKS, EXERCISE, CLOTHES, ACCESSORIES, CARS, PLACES, CHAT, CULTURE, GAMBLING, M, GIRLS, RESEARCH & SOURCES."
Anyone know where one could find good estimations on book pricing? 'Cause in 1965 this hardcover listed for $2.50, but I'm guessing it's worth slightly more than that now.
posted by aaaaa at 9:35 AM on September 1, 2002

I just glanced at, aaaaa, and 'The Book of Bond' came up with anything between $25 for the first American edition to $100 and above.

Oh, and Miguel, the reason the British have no respect for cocktails is that the genre can be defined as 'faffing about with good alcohol'. When the pubs close at 11pm, asking for anything more complicated than g&t would start a riot.
posted by riviera at 11:44 AM on September 1, 2002

"Just to say that, grammatically, only the UK pronunciation of Oh-Oh-Seven is coherent in the above phrase 'Make Mine An 007'."

Wrong. The correct British pronunciation is "Double-Oh Seven" making it appropiate to say "Make Mine a OO7." If you have the Bond DVDs I suggest looking at the Dr. No and From Russia With Love DVDs where Ian Fleming is clearly heard saying it this way on both DVDs extra features.

Many Americans also incorrectly assume that the double oh is two zeros. They are not. Bond's code number is two letter 'O's and the number seven. Through out the Fleming books other agents have code numbers that mix letters with numbers. The double-Oh section numberd up to 12 agents, OO1 through OO12.
posted by DragonBoy at 11:59 AM on September 1, 2002

Thanks, riviera - faffing about is a magnificent expression and, if I understand it correctly, applies beautifully to many other unessential activities. I shall be using it excessively in the near future, namely on MetaTalk.

Thanks too, Dragonboy - you're quite right. It is "Double Oh Seven" and therefore the website's name is correct.

On the other hand, "through out" should really be spelled "throughout". So there! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:21 PM on September 1, 2002

We were faffing about in phatic communion...
posted by y2karl at 5:38 PM on September 1, 2002

So, what it all really comes down to after all, is a deep and irrevocable schism between the "movers" and the "shakers". How refreshing! -- taz

You made me giggle out loud, you did. :)
posted by dejah420 at 9:13 PM on September 1, 2002

Thanks too, Dragonboy - you're quite right. It is "Double Oh Seven" and therefore the website's name is correct. - MC

Correct: my sentence stands anyway; "...grammatically, only the UK pronunciation of Oh-Oh-Seven is coherent in the above phrase 'Make Mine An 007'...", & and Double-O-Seven has always been the most popular rendering over here.
BTW: I didn't intend actually to pose as the arbiter of Bondophilia [never having read the books] ...
posted by dash_slot- at 5:37 AM on September 2, 2002

I will take the arbiter position (being the owner of several Bond trivia books, and invited to an exclusive Bond fan party this fall, and having spent a late evening drinking with current Bond author Raymond Benson). The movies used "double-oh seven" almost exclusively from the beginning, mostly due to American scripters.
posted by dhartung at 8:42 AM on September 2, 2002

The problem - and the reason for dash_slot-'s generous courtesy towards me - is that, in British English, there really isn't a distinction between the number "0" and the letter "O". It can be (as in telephone numbers) Oh, Nought or even (unenglishly)Zero.

You can say "Double Oh Seven", "Oh Oh Seven", "Nought Nought Seven" or even, quite continentally. "Zero Zero Seven". In Europe (which the British patronisingly refer ro as "continental Europe", even though they're part and parcel of it, being separated from it by a few, paltry miles) it's always Zero, Zero Sete.

The drinks, though, are the same.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:01 PM on September 2, 2002

ro=to; but you knew that already.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:02 PM on September 2, 2002

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