Some things never change. Sure, the latest generation of Bond movies have taken a grittier, edgier approach to everyone’s favorite secret agent (thanks in large part to Austin Powers’ mockery of the franchise, according to Daniel Craig), but as Spectre approaches its North American premiere this Friday, one thing is certain: there will never be a 007 who doesn’t enjoy himself a drink.

While a Vodka Martini, “shaken, not stirred,” may be the first thing that comes to mind for most fans, James Bond actually has a history of enjoying a pretty diverse array of cocktails, wine, and even beer. Most of his lesser-known tipples can be found in Ian Fleming’s novels, but the recent films have seen him branch out a bit as well.

Humble Beginnings

Believe it or not, the very first cocktail Bond ever ordered was an Americano in 1953’s Casino Royale. It’s a simple, somewhat misleadingly-named drink that’s been popular in Italy on and off since the First World War. A mixture of Campari, sweet Vermouth (Bond orders Cinzano), and soda water, the Americano is a great, low-alcohol choice for a mid-day refresher.

Later in the same novel, we get into more familiar territory with the Vesper. Named for our protagonist’s love interest Vesper Lynd (played by Ursula Andress in the 1967 version of the film, and Eva Green in 2006), it’s a drink that speaks to Bond’s nigh-superhuman tolerance for alcohol.

Consisting of three ounces of gin (the always brand-conscious Fleming gave his hero a penchant for Gordon’s), one ounce of vodka, and a half ounce of Kina Lillet (a quinine- and citrus-flavored aperitif wine, similar to vermouth, that’s available today as Lillet Blanc), it’s about as spirit-forward as you get. Despite being Bond’s first foray into the world of Martini variations, though, that mention in Casino Royale is also its last in the series.

As it turns out, quite a lot of 007’s booze preferences stem directly from those of his creator. With a quaint, quintessentially mid-century disregard for, you know, actual medical science, Ian Fleming seemed to believe that certain spirits were significantly better for his health than others.

For example, even though his Scottish ancestry would imply a taste for Scotch whisky, he frequently chose to drink bourbon instead (how anyone might come to the conclusion that it’s healthier is beyond us). Bond follows suit, taking his either neat or with a splash of branch water—a type of naturally limestone-filtered water that comes from Kentucky and Tennessee—in several of the novels.

Shaken, Not Stirred

Those same misguided health concerns apparently led to Bond’s love of Vodka Martinis over ones made with gin, and the classic order of “shaken, not stirred” soon followed. It’s a line that never fails to rile up Martini fans, for good reason. While many people claim that shaking “bruises” a spirit, that’s not something that’s backed up by any actual chemistry.

What really makes it a less-than-ideal method for preparing drinks that only contain spirits or other alcoholic ingredients—Manhattans, Negronis, or Sazeracs, for example—is that it both aerates and dilutes the cocktail to the extent that it gets weirdly frothy and watered-down (we go into more detail in our guide to cocktail shakers). As Martin Sheen’s beloved President Bartlet declares on The West Wing, “James is ordering a weak Martini and being snooty about it.”

There are conflicting accounts as to why Fleming chose to include this peculiar detail, but the most likely is that he simply preferred them that way himself. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but some fans have even speculated that it was, in fact, a calculated move on the part of the spy: a weak drink would allow him to remain more soberly aware of his surroundings. Unfortunately, we’re about fifty years too late to ask the author directly.

A Renaissance Man of Mystery

In addition to cocktails and spirits, Bond has been known to partake of champagne and beer as well. His favorite brands of the former range from Taittinger and Dom Pérignon to Krug and Veuve Clicquot, depending on the novel, but his taste in beer has historically been a bit less pricey.

According to the James Bond Dossier, 007 partakes of Miller High Life (as the champagne of beer, does it even belong in this category?), Red Stripe, and Löwenbräu at various points, bringing the typically top-shelf secret agent back down to earth a bit. And, as many may recall from the outrage it incited among fans, a massive product placement deal had him favor a Heineken over any of his classics in 2012’s Skyfall.

In short, you could probably put just about anything onto a list of “James Bond cocktails” if you wanted to, which is good news for all you last-minute party planners—over the course of his sixty-two years as a pop-culture icon, he’s knocked back just about every type of drink under the sun. So, while we anxiously await his latest adventure here in the States (one that has already broken box office records in the UK), mix yourself something strong and raise a glass to the suavest man who never lived.


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