Shaking up the Bond cliches

With the new James Bond film Skyfall due to launch on 26 October we felt it was high time to set something straight: the fact that the spy only likes a martini, shaken not stirred. World Class finalist Andy Mil from the London Cocktail Club casts his expert eye over 007’s taste in mixed drinks.

“The crème de menthe seems to be the sticking point”


Making its appearance in the 1953 novel Casino Royale and the 2006 film version, the Vesper is known as the true Bond martini because it’s the first he orders. The cocktail is named after the book’s female lead, Vesper Lynd, the only woman he ever falls in love with. She subsequently double-crosses him, after which 007 never again lets love get in the way of a good seduction – or cocktail.

“The Vesper Martini was meant to capture the rugged but refined character of Bond,” says Andy, “while the ingredients represent Vesper Lynd: three parts British and one part Russian.

Ingredients: Gin, vodka, Kina Lillet, lemon peel

‘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 slice of lemon-peel. Got it?’

"Certainly, Monsieur." The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

(From the novel Casino Royale)

Lillet Blanc is now the closest thing we have to Kina Lillet. The ‘kina’ or quinine part was removed in the 1980s because it was thought that people didn’t like the touch of bitterness. To bring the gin closest to the style of 1953, Tanqueray is also recommended. So a reformulated version for today (with thanks to Esquire magazine) is:

3oz Tanqueray No Ten

1oz Ketel One

½oz Lillet Blanc

1/8tsp quinine powder


The classic one that causes all the arguments: Bond likes his martini in the later books – and films – to be six parts vodka to one part vermouth, shaken (not stirred) with ice, and then strained into a chilled cocktail glass.

In the novel Live and Let Die the love interest Solitaire questions whether she’s fulfilled the brief: “I hope I’ve made it right. I’ve never had vodka martinis before.”

The Bond martini is a proper drink to be sure, but is it now a little dated? Don’t we want some vermouth flavour, as long as it’s good quality, rather than a whole chilled mouthful of vodka? Then there’s the ‘shaken not stirred’ line, one that has entered the common lexicon. This is the classic Bond drink but as Andy says: “Any self-respecting martini drinker will tell you that a martini is never shaken.”


A surprising choice for Bond, which is perhaps the reason it never made it out of the books onto the big screen. It’s the crème de menthe that seems to be the sticking point: not manly enough it seems. Others complain that the minty flavour is more akin to mouthwash. Bond shares a Stinger with Tiffany in Diamonds are Forever. In Thunderball, he pairs one with coffee at the Nassau Casino bar with villain Felix Leiter. Actually that last option sounds very drinkable.

Old Fashioned

Left out of the films for no reason other than many people haven’t heard of an Old Fashioned, Bond drinks one in Diamonds Are Forever, as well as Thunderball. In his 1956 novel Live and Let Die Bond is on a cross-country train from New York to Washington when he orders one with a chicken sandwich from the Pullman. Bond is a big fan of bourbon and it shows with the number of times he orders this frankly delicious (when made well) cocktail.


On meeting the love interest Jinx in the 2002 film Die Another Day – played by Halle Berry – Bond asks for this rum and mint mélange while hanging out a harbour-side bar. It’s a strange choice, and a first, because at no time in any of the books does he order a Mojito. Put it down to noughties love for Cuba rather than fulfilling any credible Bond heritage.

Rum Collins

With this cocktail the enemy reveals himself: to an all-action spy in the 1960s the tiki fad that led to a Rum Collins would be an anathema. A fruit-laden concoction with hints of Hawaii and hula dancing would be at adds with the sparse, mostly spirit-based choices of Bond. Hence author Ian Fleming in the 1961 novel Thunderball has villain Emilio Largo offer Sean Connery a Rum Collins – and like the flowery garland that he wears round his neck in the film, it’s something Bond just has to go along with. Nowadays the tiki has plenty of credence, and we have remembered the antecedents of the Rum Collins, dating back to Tom Collins from the early 19th century. But 50 years ago it was not what a real man ordered.


This is actually Bond’s first ever drink, ordered in the 1953 novel Casino Royale. He follows up with another request for the mixture of Campari, Cinzano and soda water in From a View to a Kill, this time when outside a café. We’re being told that Bond is European in outlook, well travelled and sophisticated. Named after the large numbers of American tourists ordering the drink at Italian cafés you have to wonder at Fleming’s choice here.

Whisky and soda

If the books are anything to go by, this is Bond’s favourite drink, with consumption racked up on 21 occasions. For a spy on the move its simplicity is ideal, but again it was lost in translation when it came to filming. Like any good Englishman he opts mostly for Scotch.

“Bond has a palate for strong, classic cocktails that lend themselves to the gentlemanly but yet strong character,” concludes Andy. “The cocktails he drinks have all evolved from a time when it was all about the balance of flavours within the drinks being simple, but delicate.”

And here’s a cocktail that Andy Mil has created himself, especially for James Bond. Enjoy it; even make it. We think he would order one.

“Although Bond is a martini drinker, the drink he has the most throughout the films is a scotch on the rocks,” Andy says, “which is why I’ve come up with this whisky-led, European mixture.”

Double Agents

1.5 parts Talisker 10 year old

¼ parts Grand Marnier

¾ parts Oloroso sherry

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

1tsp absinthe

Stir and strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.