Monday, March 14, 2011

The James Bond survey

James Bond was the creation of Ian Fleming through a series of novels and short stories.  Ian Fleming's James Bond is probably most well known to people through the movie franchise, and his portrayal by Sean Connery.  While I do appreciate the Connery Bond, I much prefer the books.  The James Bond of the books is a different sort of animal from the movies.  A good primer on James Bond is to be found HERE.

According to the late, lamented website Make Mine a 007, Bond drinks no fewer than 317 drinks throughout the series of books authored by Ian Fleming (the cinematic version lags considerably behind despite there being more movies than books). One hundred one of those are whiskies or whiskey cocktails, with Bond heavily favoring bourbon over scotch — not an accident that Bond champions the American drink over his closer-to-home companion, really, since Bond also rails against the vileness of tea and expounds at length about why he prefers coffee. But scotch need not worry. Bond’s usual drinking buddy, the American CIA agent Felix Leiter, seems to have two functions in the novels: to slap his forehead and exclaim, “James, you’re right! Why didn’t I think of that?” and to order Haig and Haig scotch whiskey.

I suggest you make your way through the Bond series chronologically, since they tend to, especially as the books progress, become episodic.  My favorites are actually the Bond short stories.  I wish there were more of these.  They can be, at times, like a travel story in a contemporary lifestyle publication from yesteryear.  He travels overseas in every book except Moonraker and in almost all the short stories as well.  The Caribbean is a popular assignment destination.  He advises you on what to wear and what to drink.  For example when in Jamaica wear Sea Island cotton shirts and drink Red Stripe beer.  When in the Virgin Islands I advise you to wear 100% rayon shirts and drink Cruzan aged dark rum.

Funny when I look at this picture and read the reviews I really wish I liked Scotch whisky.  If only they didn't have that bitter flavor.

James Bond really is a lifestyle.  His tastes are exacting, but not necessarily lavish.  Eggs and toast for breakfast, pink champagne after dinner, and a woman who was strong yet vulnerable and probably carrying some emotional baggage.  Bond liked them complicated.  But I must warn you that you may end up with a craving for specialty cigarettes after reading the books.  As Bond says never smoke habitually; It is a pleasure, not a habit.

If you do find the quirks of Mr. Bond to be fascinating, you'll want to bookmark the Commander's Club for reference.  It aided me in my aspirations to excellence, and filled me with the resolve to be uncompromising with my tastes, no matter the variety of snobbery that pushes me.

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