Everything in this world has a price. And for an undisclosed, but no doubt princely sum, Belvedere vodka has become the official of the drink new James Bond film Spectre. (Next time, I’d like to see him knocking back a bottle of Lambrini, please.)
Last year, Bond courted controversy by drinking a Heineken in bed. The beer features in this year’s blockbuster, though it’s the Belvedere that takes centre stage. I thought the critics of beery Bond were overacting and getting Bond wrong. After all, he drank Red Stripe in The Man with the Golden Gun and Dr. No.
Despite the focus on his Martinis, Bond’s libations are actually as varied as his encounters with the opposite sex. Whether it’s ouzo in Diamonds are Forever or Liebfraumilch in Live and Let Die, 007 lives life at the extreme end of the taste spectrum.
Ian Fleming’s Bond could also mix a mean cocktail. In fact, the secret agent invented the Vesper in the 1953 novel Casino Royale: "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?” If you’re going to use Gordon’s for the gin, opt for the stronger export version (the 37.5 per cent ABV isn’t what Fleming had in mind). The vodka should be strong too, preferably 50 per cent ABV. You can use either Cocchi Americano or Lillet in place of the Kina Lillet.
Besides inventing the glorious Vesper, we all know 007 enjoyed drinking the Vodka Martini – shaken, but not stirred. He also drank much more besides, including the Old Fashioned in Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die and Thunderball; the Negroni in Risicio (from the For Your Eyes Only short story collection); and the delightfully named Black Velvet, which consists of stout and champagne in Diamonds are Forever. He even partakes in The Stinger cocktail in the same film, an unpleasant mixture of cognac and crème de menthe.
Despite Bond’s inconsistencies, I take a certain satisfaction in Belvedere winning out this year. In Dr. No, when ordering his near-ubiquitous Vodka Martini he commands: “I would like a medium Vodka Dry Martini – with a slice of lemon peel. Shaken and not stirred, please. I would prefer Russian or Polish vodka.” Belvedere is produced exclusively in Poland in the town of Żyrardów, so fits well with 007’s request.
The official Belvedere 007 Martini, which is the awkward name for the rebranded Vodka Martini, is served only at select places in London. One is the St James Hotel and Club, where Ian Fleming lived for a short time. It’s also serving the Belvedere Double O (vodka, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, topped with sparkling lemonade, garnished with an olive and orange slide).
Bond was a borderline alcoholic. “It’s just that I’d rather die of drink than of thirst,” he once said in an awkward riposte to Miss Moneypenny’s concern for his excesses. Thankfully, we can drink vicariously through his books and films, and take advice from a quote of breath-taking misogyny: “They say a martini is like a woman's breast: one ain't enough and three is too many.” (The Parallax View, 1974). There are worse rules to live by.
Belvedere 007 Martini
• 60ml Belvedere Vodka
• 10ml Dry vermouth
• Shaken, not stirred. Garnish with a lemon twist