Monte Carlo, the French Riviera, New Orleans, the Caribbean: these are the places we associate with James Bond. Portobello Road, not so much.
But this stands to change, for over the next few weeks the bohemian enclave of Notting Hill will be aswarm with Sunspel polo shirts, Persol eyewear, Goodyear-welted Crockett and Jones Norwich boots, suede chukkas, and, who knows, maybe even the odd Omega Seamaster Diver 300m 007 watch or gleaming Aston Martin DB5. The event: a James Bond-themed immersive dining experience.
Hosted by The Distillery, the company behind Portobello Gin and The Ginstitute, the Thursday night Bond dinners will offer the perfect tie-in with Daniel Craig’s delayed last Bond film, No Time To Die. Co-founder Jake Burger will host the evening, while Chef Pierre Alain Simonin will provide a five-course menu served with five Bond-inspired drinks. The rest is shrouded in mystery, the menu’s exact details to remain “a closely guarded secret until the actual event”, the guests instructed to “dress to impress”. No doubt there will be Bollinger; perhaps the new limited edition 007 Special Cuvee Champagne or B13 Blanc de Noirs.
Shaken or stirred, booze is a leitmotif throughout the franchise. In the books, he has close to 300 drinks and, in the films, imbibes every eleven minutes. In Thunderball alone Bond gets through half a bottle of spirits a day, while champagne is mentioned 120 times throughout the series.
Bond is an indiscriminate drinker. Although it’s the Martini that has become Bond’s iconic drink, he enjoys other tipples. Goldfinger starts with “Bond, with two bourbons inside him”, and sees him consume two vodka martinis and a pint of pink Champagne over dinner. In Goldeneye M pours Bond a Jack Daniel’s from a bottle kept behind her desk as a little pick-me-up.
Over the years alcohol companies have seen this penchant as the perfect advertising opportunity. Taittinger was Bond’s first love in the first book Casino Royale, and, by Moonraker, he was on to the Dom Perignon. Bollinger has appeared in over 20 Bond films starting with 1973’s Live And Let Die, while Craig and Dench enjoy Macallan 18 in Spectre, and the Isle of Skye’s Talisker in both The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.
Though certainly an avid drinker, the spy is not yet a pin-up for CAMRA. Indeed, while Craig is seen drinking bottled Heineken in Skyfall (a product placement thought to be worth $45m) and various Bonds in the books and films have flirted with Miller’s High Life, Lowenbrau and Red Stripe, he has always been more of a spirits man. After Champagne, of course.
In Bond’s words, booze is “one of the moments of luxury” in life, lending a kind of courage in the face of danger and the shadow of death. As London returns from the pandemic’s shackles, why not indulge like Bond? You’ll certainly be in high spirits.
- Tickets to the immersive Bond experience are priced at £90 and can be booked here.