What Alcohol James Bond Really Drank in the Books

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The James Bond of the movies is known to enjoy a martini or two, but he is an utter lightweight compared with the 007 of Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories, published between 1953 and 1966. There, Bond reportedly consumes 317 drinks. His average weekly intake is 92 units of alcohol, or four times the safe amount for a male adult.

Drinking that many of one cocktail would be terribly boring, of course. Fortunately, Fleming’s Bond consumes more than martinis. His palate contains multitudes. He drinks bourbon and Scotch but prefers the former. (Fleming retrofitted a Scottish provenance to Bond after seeing—and liking—Sean Connery in his first outing, in Dr. No.) He downs plenty of bubbly—Taittinger is a favorite—as well as the Champagne of beers, Miller High Life. And he isn’t such a stalwart of the vodka martini as the 007 of the movies: He has 16 gin and 19 vodka martinis in the books.

With bottles pulled from Fleming’s pages, this cart shows that Bond’s drinking diet contains multitudes, from high-end Dom Pérignon to classic American whiskey (like I. W. Harper, bottom left) to the very accessible Gordon’s gin.

Ben Alsop

The excessive drinking was certainly a product of the era but also points to an egalitarian streak (High Life and bourbon) and hints at a troubling darkness to Bond. In other words, the booze helps soothe his demons. The superspy’s appetite for alcohol is downplayed, somewhat, for the screen, likely for commercial reasons. In 24 movies, 007 drinks just over a third the amount he consumes in 14 books. Only Daniel Craig, perhaps as a nod to the books, has attempted to show Bond’s liking for a tipple or three as anything other than suave.

Meanwhile, many of Bond’s biggest nemeses can be described as teetotalers. In the eyes of both Fleming and Bond, abstaining from alcohol is suspect and pretentious. Even for megalomaniacs.

This article appears in the October/November ’21 issue of Esquire. Subscribe here.

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