No Time to Die should be more aptly named No Time to Release as the James Bond franchise’s latest installment continues to push its release date back again and again. But who can blame them? After Christopher Nolan’s Tenet failed to bring fans back to the box office, it’s hard to say when, if ever, is a good time to release Daniel Craig’s final Bond film.
In the meantime, we can feast on Ian Flemming’s novels and at least drink our way through COVID times the way his seminal hero would.
Perhaps more infamous than James Bond’s pension for good suits, fast cars, and beautiful women is his taste for booze. From Bollinger, bourbon, and shaken martinis that make drinkers around the world cringe, the alcohol surrounding 007 is as well-known as his license to kill.
His attention to detail in almost every matter, including his drinks, separates Bond from his imitators and has created an image that has stood the test of time. Bond’s taste for fine wine and good spirits is a reflection of his creator, Ian Fleming.
A military man himself, Flemming was also a man of privilege and education with memberships to some of the world’s most exclusive clubs. Fleming’s 007 was more than just a pulp icon by infusing Bond with a sense of sophistication. Much like how Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Bond, reflected the ideal British gentleman of a bygone era, so too was Bond. Nostalgia is a powerful drug.
When Bond made his leap to the big screen, the late Sean Connery was cast as the man with the license to kill in Dr. No, and the director Terrence Young took both the character and the actor under his wing. The erudite man of mystery dressed in Savile Row suits with a rapier wit were the phrases used to describe Terrence before Bond.
He is meant to be the modern knight in shining armor, and in a world of more sophisticated tastes, he must be able to blend in with polite society. 007’s ability to blend in any situation, look at home at a casino with champagne as in a bar with bourbon is part of his charm and highlights his ability as a secret agent.
Bond understands his surroundings. He knows what to order and when and, most importantly, when to stop. Always under control, never under the table, Bond is the drinker we all wish to be.
So if you are planning on donning a white blazer, or at least pretending to, here’s how to drink like a double ‘O.’
How to Drink Like a Secret Agent and Live to Die Another Day
The key to Bond’s signature lifestyle is that he enjoys life but rarely overindulges. While we find him at the bottom of the bottle on numerous occasions throughout the franchise, most of the time, he is in command of his faculties.
Rarely, if ever, is the secret agent sauced or in the bag. For Bond, he’s a seasoned saucer. So, he knows how to hold his liquor. Maybe it comes from years of practice; maybe Q hooked him up with a concoction to ease the hangover. Either way, he knows how to keep control over his faculties.
This is a valuable lesson for anyone. As my father put it, “You don’t get the girl if you can’t stand up at the end of the night.” Though my dad wasn’t a spy, or at least I never knew him to be one, which may make him a spy, this advice holds.
The hell that is a hangover often comes with more remorse than pain. Our guilt is as potent as our headache, and we swear off the sauce forevermore.
It doesn’t have to be this way. All alcohol is meant to enhance the experience. Those glory days of beer pong and jello shots are better left in the dust. One glass of good scotch will treat you better than four glasses of Lord Calvert.
Moderation, or, Never Say Never Again
Watch any actor who plays bond. What do they do? Do they chug? Do they guzzle?
Perhaps he takes a sip or a taste, but notice that the spy never finishes his drink. He enjoys the martini, but he doesn’t down it. He has a job to do after all.
So too should you be vigilant in your consumption. While a night out with the boys is always a good time, the guy puking next to a PT Cruiser rarely gets the girl.
Bond places quality over quantity. Why drink an eight dollar champagne loaded with sugar and preservatives when a glass of Bollinger will do you twice as good? Why waste your money on a well whiskey likely made in Indiana out of potatoes when you can order the real thing?
Being drunk was cool in college, but now, at 30, you’re a raging alcoholic. Seeing someone chug a bottle of Jack before inevitably hurling into a trashcan may have been story worthy at University, but in life, it is just a one-way ticket to an AA meeting.
Therefore, learn what you like and what you don’t. Hunter S. Thompson has a great quote about drinking, “There is an ancient Celtic axiom that says ‘Good people drink good beer.’ Which is true, then as now. Just look around you in any public barroom and you will quickly see: Bad people drink bad beer. Think about it.” And hey, if it’s good enough for Bond and Doctor Gonzo, it’s good enough for you and me.
The Vesper Martini
If we are going to begin on a liquid journey into the art of James Bond, then it must begin with the martini.
In the novels, Bond “looked carefully at the barman. ‘A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet…Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon peel.”
In the film franchise, while sitting at a high stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em he makes the same order and the rest of the table follows. After he wins the poker tournament and has dinner with Vesper, he decides to name the drink after her.
The beauty of the Bond martini is it is a drink named and created out of love. An odd notion when attached to an infamous womanizer, yet the beauty of any great character is nuance.
Either way, it’s a specific drink for a specific man. The point of this drink is it is particular. This is not a savory cocktail or an easy drink. It is not dashed with an olive or onion. This is a drinker’s drink that tastes like its ingredients.
Gordon’s is a workhouse gin. It’s perfect for any gin cocktail, but don’t expect a lot of depth. This is a classic, Winston Churchill gin that is made to put hair on your chest. Any London Dry Gin will do, but make sure it has enough juniper to stand up to the rest of the drink (no Hendricks or herbaceous gins).
The vodka simply lightens the load of the gin and mellows out the tasting notes. One could easily opt the vodka for another shot of gin and not lose a thing.
Sadly, Kina Lillet doesn’t exist anymore, despite Lillet Blanc claiming they’ve never changed the recipe. Instead, opt for Cocchi Americano. The difference is that Cocchi keeps one key ingredient: quinine. This bitter flavor is what gives tonic its tick and adds a layer of complexity to the martini.
Additionally, although not called for in the original recipe a dash or two of Orange Bitters won’t hurt this cocktail.
Make sure the bartender uses the twist of lemon, or other citrus fruit, as this drink would only be ruined by an olive.
The Kangaroo Cocktail, Shaken Not Stirred
“Vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.”
More bartenders have scoffed at this drink order than any other cocktail in history, and for a good reason. It’s a bad drink.
When you shake any drink, you “bruise” it, meaning you weaken the flavor. This is why you don’t shake anything whiskey (for the most part). Typically, the only thing you shake are cocktails with fruit juices.
Then again, are we to believe this is a mistake, an odd taste for a writer who loved his drinks? Perhaps. Or, what is more, likely is this simple cocktail had a purpose.
This nearly flavorless drink littered with olives has become a staple at bars across the world. People convince themselves that this is a martini. It is not.
Martini’s are made with gin, and if you order a martini, “Shaken not stirred,” it is the equivalent of thinking an Old Fashioned is muddled (damn you, Don Draper).
And yet, why would Bond order this drink? Simple: strategy. This drink has no taste. No matter what kind of vermouth you use, the ice will make the drink nearly flavorless, and that’s the point. If someone were to drug this drink, Bond would know.
Any taste and the drink has been tampered with, so it is an excellent drink order for a spy on the hunt.
Likewise, the addition of water balances the drink out for someone who may want to have a slight buzz for courage, but not too much to prevent them from kicking ass. After all, a martini is 3:1 all booze; that’s four shots of alcohol. It’s a one and done sort of drink.
The film franchise cemented Bond’s tastes; however, much like his archetypal descendent, John Wick, Bond is a bourbon man. In the novels, Bond frequently shares a bourbon with his brother from another mother, C.I.A. operative Felix Lighter.
Like the martini, this is a timeless order. Bourbon neat, bourbon on the rocks, bourbon any way is a classy drink. The rocks glass gracefully holding a finger or two of America’s greatest gift to libations is always the right decision.
Right now, bourbon is riding a wave of creation as micro-distilleries have popped up all over the country; however, Kentucky and its neighbor Tennessee still produce the best whiskey in America.
What separates bourbon from its brothers are two things: the corn and the “e.” First, all American whiskey is spelled with the “e,” while its cousins across the pond are spelled whisky. Second, for whiskey to be bourbon, it must be made in Kentucky, and it must be made, mostly, of corn. Fifty-one percent of corn is the mandatory minimum for corn, followed by a dealer’s choice of rye and other cereal grains.
Not every moment calls for a strong spirit. While Bond may throw back a shot of vodka or two, he knows when to lighten the load. Enter the Americano.
A softer sipper than the Negroni, this is Bond’s second favorite drink when in Italy or outdoors. Another note from the novels, this concoction of sweet vermouth, Campari, and club soda makes for a great sipper. Throw a twist of lemon, which is a great drink to have when you don’t want to get drunk.
Opt for something like Antica Carpano for the vermouth and enjoy a delicious drink. Then, when the night calls for it, throw in a splash of gin and nix the soda for a delicious Negroni.
Latest from “Q” Branch, or How to Plan Ahead
Hydration, hydration, hydration. Water is the key to living to fight another day.
The best thing to do is to drink water before and after. As everyone knows, alcohol is a diuretic and will dehydrate you before you start your pregame, pregame. Drink plenty of water or hit the electrolytes with a Gatorade or hydration pack.
Not all of us have a Q, but we do have the internet. There is a world of supplements out there to target hangovers, both pre and post.
The most straightforward hack for beating back the buzz is a pack of Emergenc-C. Loaded with B-Vitamins, vitamin C, and electrolytes, it’s a trifecta of fighting a hangover; however, this is a one and done sort of drink. Too much vitamin C will give you the same feeling like a hangover, so only plan on taking one of these.
Milk Thistle is another key ingredient for replenishing lost results. This is found in products like PartyAid and Morning Recovery, both great ways to get back in the game.
Otherwise, pop a pill or two, or hit up Amazon for products like Blowfish or LiquidIV. If this isn’t your bag, then go simpler: Gatorade, Powerade, or the classic Pedialyte.
The Morning After, The Living Daylights
No matter what precautions you take, life has determined that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And if you drink, there will be side effects.
Luckily, we can curb that too. First of all, while it may seem like Bond is a “Hair of the dog” kind of guy, never do this. This will only delay the hangover and likely take you one step closer to getting a sponsor.
Second, the market is full of electrolyte beverages like Pedialyte, Gatorade, and I.V. that offer excellent rehydration. Additionally, to fight nausea and a headache, opt for something like Midol or Blowfish.
The goal is to get the body back to optimal performance. So pain relievers, vitamins, and water are your friend. Likewise, a kick of caffeine will do you good too. Your body was poisoned the previous night, so you need to jump-start it.
When that doesn’t work, opt for traditional standbys like greasy food such as an All-American breakfast of bacon and eggs, or hit the gym and sauna.
The body has to run its course. Essentially, every time we drink, we’re dousing ourselves with poison, and to think that it will magically go away is a fool’s errand.
Drinking comes with consequences. That’s part of the fun. Overindulge, and the body will let you know. Have a gluten sensitivity? No more beer for you. Wine allergy? Here comes a headache.
The goal is always to heighten the mood and celebrate. Drinking is not the object; it is a lubricant.
Remember, there’s a job to do. Drink responsibly.
What is your favorite cocktail? Let us know in the comments!
This article originally published on GREY Journal.