James Bond’s suave, sophisticated style is epitomized by his cocktail of choice: a classic vodka martini.
In fact, the drink is so synonymous with the British spy that “shaken, not stirred” is just as well-known a catchphrase as his famed introduction of “Bond, James Bond.”
The cocktail itself has become a classic and is an example of when author Ian Fleming allowed his own proclivities to make their way into the character of 007.
Fleming even invented a special cocktail recipe in the 1953 novel Casino Royale, which he named the “Vesper martini,” after Bond’s doomed lover.
The spy’s drinks do more than just liquor him up ahead of a mission; they add to the mystique of his character.
Dr. Ian Kinane, editor of the International Journal of James Bond Studies told Newsweek: “In terms of drink and alcohol in the Bond novels and films they are – of course – part of the fantasy. I don’t just mean simply in terms of Bond’s expensive, luxurious tastes, but the sheer fantasy and lunacy that a secret agent should be able to consume so much alcohol on the job and not be rendered incapacitated.
“Bond consumes so much of the good stuff that his liver, by now, must surely be defective.”
While, of course, it is important to always drink responsibly (unlike 007), Newsweek consulted an expert on how to make this classic cocktail, to celebrate the release of No Time to Die.
What Is In a Vodka Martini?
Rather than opting for a gin-based martini, Bond always specifies he wants his drink made with vodka. Regardless of which base liquor you use, the other ingredients of the cocktail are important in working out how “wet” or “dry” you want your martini to be.
David Cooper, owner of Forever Crystal glassware, told Newsweek: “The fuss-free classic martini is an elegant choice, and one we wouldn’t want to alter. The underlying ingredients for a martini cocktail are your choice of spirit and vermouth.
“Originally, martinis were created using gin, hence why Bond always stipulates ‘vodka martini.’ Once you’ve chosen your spirit, a ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ martini depends on the amount of vermouth you add: the less you use, the ‘drier’ the cocktail.”
To make a proper Bond cocktail, vodka must be the spirit of choice, along with vermouth.
However, the question of “shaken, not stirred” is a controversial one, as using regular ice to shake the drink could water down the delicious nectar.
Cooper has a fool-proof way to avoid this, through the use of one ingredient: dry ice, to be applied when stirring your cocktail.
He said: “Next we decide shaken or stirred, both work well for a classic martini! If shaken (as 007 requires) the cocktail is aerated and therefore appears cloudier, yet experts often say that if a martini is stirred you have more control over the appearance, texture, and temperature of the cocktail, making for a nicer drink.
“To avoid diluting your martini, while stirring, you should add dry ice to your cocktail mix as this melts at a slower rate.”
The traditional gin martini has a citrus garnish or a green olive, but Cooper also suggests a drop of orange bitters to add a special zing to the cocktail.
How To Make a Vesper Martini
The Vesper martini, in contrast, is a far more traditional martini in the sense that it has a gin base.
In Casino Royale, Bond orders a dry martini in a champagne goblet, before correcting himself with a particular recipe.
He said: “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?”
Kina Lillet is a French, white aperitif, while Gordon’s is a London dry gin.
Bond ordered this while drinking with his friend, Felix Leiter, telling him he wants his only drink before dinner to be “large and very strong and very cold, and very well-made.”
007 even joked about patenting it with a good name, and it ultimately it became known as a Vesper martini.
According to Kinane, this drink is an example of Bond using alcohol to numb the pain of doing such a difficult job, and losing his loved one in the process.
He said: “Bond drinks so heavily so as to deaden the emotional weight of his job. It is not for nothing that in the filmic Casino Royale that Craig’s Bond names his famous vodka martini ‘The Vesper’ – after the ill-fated Vesper Lynd who double-crosses him and drowns herself.
“For Bond, his famous martini is both a means to blunt the pain and trauma of his past as well as a means of accessing the past he would have had with Vesper, had things transpired differently.”
While martinis may be his drink of choice, 007 never sticks to one beverage, and is seen throughout the books drinking everything from negronis and mint juleps, to pints of Black Velvet, which is a mixture of a dark stout and champagne.
In one of the more recent films, Skyfall, Bond was introduced as a straight beer-drinker for the first time, due to a partnership between the film and the Dutch brewery Heineken.
No Time to Die hits U.S. theaters on Friday, October 8.