How To Make The Absolute Best James Bond-Inspired Cocktails
Drink like 007 himself with 5 killer cocktails that have a license to thrill.
“SHAKEN: Drinking with James Bond and Ian Fleming, the Official Cocktail Book” explores the James Bond creator’s writing on the pleasures of drinking 50 delicious cocktails from recipes inspired by his books and developed by award-winning London bar, Swift. With an introduction by Ian Fleming’s nephew, Fergus Fleming, learn to mix five essential Bond cocktails below:
Ian Fleming liked to surround himself with stories, his fertile mind finding romance in the most mundane item. Cars, clothes, food, cigarettes and travel – he wove legends around them all, but none were so memorable as those involving drink.
Transferred to the page these tales of the everyday became hallmarks of the Bond novels: vodka, for example, should be sprinkled with pepper to remove impurities; bourbon should be mixed only with the clearest branch water; “Napoleon” brandy must be avoided at all costs; no serious drink should be consumed under bright sun; olives should be eschewed in favor of lemon peel; and of course, a Martini should be shaken not stirred.
His American friend Ernest Cuneo recalled, “Of all the maddening trivia through which I have suffered, nothing quite matched Fleming’s instructions on how his [Martinis] were to be made…he was painfully specific about both the vermouth and the gin and explained each step to the guy who was going to mix it as if it were a delicate brain operation. Several times I asked him impatiently why the hell he didn’t go downstairs and mix it himself, but he ignored me as if he hadn’t heard and continued right on with his instructions.”
“Equally annoyingly, he always warmly congratulated the captain when he tasted it as if he had just completed a fleet manoeuvre at flank speed.”
What escaped Cuneo was that Fleming wasn’t just ordering a drink. No, he was telling a story in which Cuneo and the “captain” had unwittingly become participants. Curiously, while Bond would later achieve fame through the films, the rituals so beloved of his creator translated – with the notable exception of “shaken not stirred” – only superficially on to the screen.
Which was perhaps as well, since Fleming could be an unreliable authority. At one point he had Bond downing a brandy and ginger, at another condemning it as only fit for drunkards. When he got round to tasting the Vesper cocktail he had invented for Casino Royale, he declared it horrible.
And when one journalist recently consumed the food and alcohol allotted to Bond during one day in Goldfinger he found himself barely able to move, let alone infiltrate an international criminal’s headquarters. But these were minor details – it was the story that counted.
A Martini was, famously, Fleming’s favorite drink. It isn’t, however, the one that appears most frequently in the Bond novels. The winner here is Champagne with 121 mentions, followed by whisky at 77. Gin and vodka come relatively low at 33 and 37 mentions respectively. Rum limps in at 11 and the absolute loser is beer, which he didn’t think counted.
The deficiency of rum is curious because it formed the basis of Fleming’s party special, “Old Man’s Thing”. This perilous and potentially explosive cocktail, which he consumed only in Jamaica, never made it into Bond’s repertoire and one can see why.
The recipe is as follows: take a glass bowl; peel but do not break an orange and a lime; put them in the bowl, add several bottles of white rum and light with a match. A daintier version is included in this book under the same name, but if you’re after a story with a bang then Fleming’s concoction has better credentials.
“I myself abhor Wine-and-Foodmanship,” he once wrote. Be that as it may, he was a man who knew what he liked. He had an unerring if not expert eye for fine wine and was specific about spirits. Only the finest distilleries were acceptable.
In 1961, condemned to a mere three ounces of hard liquor per day as a result of a heart attack, he wrote to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to find which brands were the best.
“I wish to concentrate on the purest and finest liquor obtainable in England. This vital piece of information will be known in your Ministry – i.e., which is the finest refined spirit, gin, whisky or brandy on the market at any price”. The Ministry’s answer, alas, is unknown.
One wonders what Ian would have made of modern mixology. Cocktails can be tricky things, as many people know to their cost and subsequent headaches. To quote his old drinking pal Cuneo, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die…has a lot of drawbacks, the principal one being that you don’t die; you just feel lousy.”
But they have an undeniable mystique. Pour this, shake that, serve it in a fancy glass, add subtle lighting and all of a sudden the evening is a page waiting to be turned. The narrative is irresistible. Ian was no stranger to smoke-filled bars (the combination of cigarettes and alcohol did him in in the end) and he certainly knew how to turn pages.
The twenty-first century is a far cry from the age of The Savoy in which he grew up – and a further cry still from the age of austerity in which his novels made their first appearance – but one feels he would have approved.
The cocktails presented here have been created by award-winning mixologists Edmund Weil, Bobby Hiddleston and Mia Johansson. Some of the recipes are old stalwarts taken from the novels, but the majority are completely new, inspired by the people, places and adventures found in Fleming’s writings.
Regardless of their origins they all reflect Ian’s basic ethos that behind everything – whoever you are, wherever you go and whatever you do – there is a story to be told. So take comfort as you raise the glass that it contains no ordinary drink. You have mixed a measure of Ian Fleming’s imagination.
Here, five of the absolute best Bond-inspired cocktails that have ever been shaken or stirred.
The Dry Martini is perfectly suited to James Bond’s character: the drink is simultaneously blunt and sophisticated, brutal and refined.
If Fleming’s writing and correspondence are anything to go by, it was the cocktail he obsessed about more than any other – it is mentioned 58 times in the Bond series alone. And rightly so: like many deceptively simple classic cocktails, the concept and execution of a Martini can vary wildly according to the skills and preferences of the bartender.
Although today’s consensus dictates that a Martini’s clarity and texture is improved when stirred, in this book we defer to Fleming himself, who, like Bond, preferred his shaken.
- 75ml (2 ½fl oz) vodka or London Dry gin
- 2-20ml (up to ¾fl oz) dry vermouth
- Garnish with lemon twist
Measure the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and top up to the brim with ice. Shake vigorously until very cold, then strain into a frosted Martini glass or coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
NOTE: While the choice of gin and vermouth make a significant difference to the flavor of the drink, it is their ratio which really defines its character. Preferences range from “bone dry” where a tiny dash of vermouth is surreptitiously wafted into the mixing glass, to “wet” which can call for as much as a 1:3 ratio of vermouth to spirit. As a general guideline, vodka Martinis tend to be prepared slightly “wetter” than gin, as the vermouth imparts a level of flavor that vodka traditionally lacks.
The Dry Martini in Bond Books
Chapter 7, “Rouge et Noir”
Bond insisted on ordering Leiter’s Haig-and-Haig “on the rocks” and then he looked carefully at the barman. “A dry Martini,” he said. “One. In a deep Champagne goblet.” “Oui, monsieur.” “Just a moment. 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. Got it?”
Live and Let Die
Chapter 4, “The Big Switchboard”
Leiter ordered medium-dry Martinis with a slice of lemon peel. He stipulated House of Lords gin and Martini Rossi. The American gin, a much higher proof than English gin, tasted harsh to Bond. He reflected that he would have to be careful what he drank that evening.
Live and Let Die
Chapter 4, “Passionate Leave”
Solitaire came out of the house and walked on naked feet across the lawn. She was carrying a tray with a cocktail shaker and two glasses. She put it down on a bamboo table beside Bond’s chair. “I hope I’ve made it right,” she said. “Six to one sounds terribly strong. I’ve never had Vodka Martinis before.”
Diamonds Are Forever
Chapter 9, “Bitter Champagne”
The waiter brought the Martinis, shaken and not stirred, as Bond had stipulated, and some slivers of lemon peel in a wine glass. Bond twisted two of them and let them sink to the bottom of his drink. He picked up his glass and looked at the girl over the rim. “We haven’t drunk to the success of a mission,” he said.
The Sour is more a family of drinks than an individual cocktail. Given the simplicity and balance of the recipe, almost any spirit can be substituted as the base. The recipe was first committed to paper by legendary US bartender Jerry Thomas in his 1862 book The Bar-Tender’s Guide and perhaps unsurprisingly specifies bourbon.
However, on the British side of the Atlantic, Scotch would have been the norm, and it is likely that Fleming was thinking of the latter when referring to the cocktail in The Man with the Golden Gun, given his spelling of “whisky” (rather than “whiskey” which tends to denote American or Irish distillates).
The cocktail is delightfully simple and utterly delicious. Although not included in the additional recipe, the egg white gives the concoction a meringue-like texture which greatly enhances the drinking experience.
- 50ml (2fl oz) blended Scotch whisky
- 20ml (¾fl oz) egg white
- 20ml (¾fl oz) lemon juice
- 20ml (¾fl oz) simple syrup
Measure the ingredients into a cocktail shaker without ice. Shake vigorously to whip the egg white into a foam, then top up with ice. Shake vigorously again, then strain into a frosted rocks glass over large ice cubes or an ice block.
NOTE: Some recipes call for a dash of Angostura bitters, which adds complexity. Likewise, some prefer Sours straight up in a coupe without ice. The recipe works equally well with bourbon, as well as a wide range of other spirits.
Light, floral and easy on the palate, the Moneypenny embodies the understated elegance associated with this recurring character in Fleming’s novels. As M’s “all-powerful private secretary” she is a woman of honorable character and dedication to the Secret Service.
Moneypenny and Bond have a firm and fond relationship and often enjoy some lighthearted flirting which fuels Moneypenny’s unrequited feelings for her favorite 00 agent.
Like the character herself, this drink is quintessentially English, encompassing flavors and aromas that evoke a balmy summer in the Home Counties, yet the bittersweet notes that Cocchi Americano brings to the finish suggest hidden depths within.
- 35ml (1 ¼⁄ fl oz) Hendrick’s gin
- 20ml (¾ fl oz) lime juice
- 15ml (½ fl oz) simple syrup
- 15ml (½ fl oz) rose liqueur
- 15ml (½ fl oz) Cocchi Americano
- Slice of cucumber
- A few fresh mint leaves
- Garnish with long strip of cucumber mint sprig pink or white rose petals
Measure the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and top up with ice to the brim. Shake vigorously, then strain into a frosted Highball glass over crushed ice. Garnish with a very thin strip of cucumber twisted around the inside of the glass, a sprig of mint and rose petals.
Many fans of the Bond novels relish the attention paid to the food and drink enjoyed by their hero. Like his creator, James Bond is an epicure and takes great pleasure in his food, with particular care dedicated to a good breakfast.
Perhaps because he knows that every meal may well be his last, he ensures each is of the highest quality. This cocktail – a member of the Fizz family thanks to the egg white and Champagne – is designed as the perfect accompaniment to a fine breakfast.
The predominance of dry flavors (gin, sherry, grapefruit) is leveled by a shot of sugar syrup, and the red fruit notes of the fine pink Champagne (Taittinger for preference, as specified by Bond). This is a bracing, energizing breakfast tipple, certain to set you up for the day – even if you haven’t been to bed.
- 35ml (¼ fl oz) Tanqueray gin
- 15ml (½fl oz) Tio Pepe sherry
- 20ml (¾fl oz) grapefruit juice
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 20ml (¾fl oz) simple syrup
- 20ml (¾fl oz) egg white
- 50ml (2fl oz) Taittinger Prestige Rosé (or other pink Champagne)
- Garnish with Peychaud’s bitters, pink grapefruit slice
Measure the ingredients, except the Champagne, into a cocktail shaker without ice. Shake vigorously to whip the egg white into a foam, then top up with ice. Shake vigorously again, then strain into a large coupette. Top up with Champagne and garnish with a streak of Peychaud’s bitters and a pink grapefruit slice.
Oddjob is the handyman of the avaricious, gold-obsessed villain, Auric Goldfinger: “I call him Oddjob because that describes his functions on my staff.”
These functions, it transpires, include everything from chauffeur and bodyguard to assassin and torturer (a role for which he employs his excruciating talent for massage). Oddjob is a formidable opponent of great stature and strength, with the skills of a martial arts master.
Likewise, this cocktail packs a flavorsome punch, but the rough edges of the Korean soju are rounded off by the sesame and the sherry. The dash of vinegar lifts the whole drink and shows how even a tiny quantity of a zingy ingredient can change the character of a cocktail completely.
It is a little-known fact that soju is the world’s bestselling distilled beverage, knocking Brazil’s firewater, cachaça, into second place.
- 50ml (2fl oz) Jinro soju washed in sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons Palo Cortado sherry
- 1 dash of brown rice vinegar
- Garnish with shiso leaf
For the Jinro soju washed in sesame oil, makes 150 ml (5fl oz)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 140ml (4 ½fl oz) Jinro soju (or other soju)
To make the Jinro soju washed in sesame oil, add the sesame oil to the bottle of soju and freeze for 2–3 hours, then strain through a coffee filter. To make the cocktail, measure the ingredients into a frosted mixing glass and top up with ice. Stir until very cold, then strain into a chilled coupette. Garnish with a single shiso leaf.
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