Taking a break for a martini

There is perhaps no more famous drink request in the world: “a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred.” For more than 40 years, people the world over have recognized this as the signature drink of fictional British secret agent James Bond. Given his hold on the popular imagination and success at the box office, a strong case can be made that 007 is the most successful fictional character in history. However, four-plus decades have also led to a lot of misinformation, especially when it comes to his martinis. Peruse the Web or Usenet today, and you'll run across a number of commonly-held myths about Commander Bond's drinking habits. These include:

  • The vodka martini was created by Smirnoff in 1962 as a promotional tie-in for the film version of Dr. No.
  • The literary Bond drank only gin martinis.
  • The literary Bond drank martinis that contained both gin and vodka.

The real answers: no, no (although he did drink them occasionally), and only once. The truth is, Ian Fleming's 007 clearly preferred vodka martinis long before Sean Connery ever holstered a Walther PPK. And vodka martinis are only part of the equation. The literary James Bond had a distinct preference for bourbon and scotch, and drank a wide array of cocktails and wines. The big-screen version of 007 is more likely to open a bottle of champagne, but also likes straight liquors.

All of this raises the question, what exactly does James Bond drink? That’s the leitmotif behind this site. Having methodically analyzed each book and movie, we can now present a detailed and accurate overview of 007 and what he drinks. There are some surprising results. Even the author of this site would not have guessed that sake would end up number two on the list of drinks consumed by the literary Bond.

While a number of subsequent James Bond novels have been penned by writers like Christopher Wood, John Gardner and Raymond Benson, it is Ian Fleming’s original 007 stories and the subsequent films that best capture the essence of James Bond. Therefore, our official drink count is based only on these two sources. (We do take a look at one non-Fleming Bond novel by Kinglsey Amis, but the drinks are not included in the final total.)

Mister Bond has had a huge impact on what we drink, almost single-handedly popularizing vodka in the United States, and vodka martinis everywhere else. Careful product placements of a variety of alcohol brands are targeted at those of us who want to “be like Bond,” in effect, helping sell a lifestyle. We will examine those brands, along with the many other libations preferred by 007.

This site does not promote drinking to excess, and we do not recommend that any mortal person try to match 007’s levels of alcohol consumption. Like real alcohol, it is hoped that you use this information responsibly. If you’re under 21, don’t try this at home.

After five years of effort, "Make mine a 007" is at long last complete. (From time to time, it's likely that an occasional tweak will occur.) We hope you enjoy the results, and if the spirits move you, raise a glass.


The Minister

Original material © 2005 The Minister of Martinis
Image © 2002 MGM
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