Legendary actor has passed, but his ‘spirit’ lives on

As a tribute to the late UNICEF ambassador, Sir Roger Moore, best known to many of his adoring fans around the world as the second, and perhaps the smoothest, James Bond in the Spy series, we served complimentary martini cocktails to our Happy Hour regulars on the evening of his passing, “shaken, not stirred,” of course, while playing the soundtracks to all his classic Bond movies.

“Shaken, not stirred” is a catchphrase of Ian Fleming’s fictional British Secret Service agent and describes his preference for the preparation of his favorite cocktail.

The phrase first appears in the novel “Diamonds Are Forever” (1956, the year of my birth), though Bond himself does not actually say it until “Dr. No” (1958), where his exact words are “shaken and not stirred.”

In the film adaptations of Fleming’s novels, the phrase is first uttered by the villain, Dr. Julius No, when he offers the drink in “Dr. No” (1962), and it is not uttered by Bond himself (played by my fellow Scot, Sean Connery) until “Goldfinger” (1964).

It is used in numerous Bond films thereafter with the notable exceptions of “You Only Live Twice” (1967), in which the drink is wrongly offered as “stirred, not shaken,” to Bond’s response “that’s right,” and “Casino Royale” (2006) in which Bond, after losing millions of dollars in a game of poker, is asked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred and snaps, “Do I look like I give a damn?”

Martini connoisseurs will tell you this classic cocktail should really be stirred, as shaking it clouds the drink and can even make it weaker, as more ice dissolves. So Bond is actually a little uncouth in his demands, but perhaps he assumes a shaken one will get cold quicker, and thus be in his hands and stomach sooner.

Sadly, Bond never specifies his exact martini recipe, though he clearly has a soft spot for vodka over the classic gin. Given his love for hard-hitting booze, I believe 80ml of vodka shaken with a small amount (perhaps a capful) of white vermouth, and served with a twist of lemon, would probably quench the thirst of Great Britain’s most famous super spy.

He does, however, give the specifications for a drink now known as the Vesper in the book “Casino Royale.” This is basically a sort of super-martini, made with gin and vodka, and a French aperitif wine instead of vermouth, and it’s the one we now serve here at the George. 

Sadly, though he might have been a super-secret agent, Bond isn’t much of a mixologist: The Vesper is a harsh, not-very-balanced tasting drink. But maybe he was just after a really, really BIG hit of alcohol to steady his nerves, and his aim.
If you want to make the Vesper Martini at home, Kina Lillet is sadly no more, but Lillet Blanc (made by the same company) is a reasonable substitute, though it’s slightly less bitter in taste. Alternatively, try Cocchi Americano, which tastes not too dissimilar to Kina. Just don’t drink more than one of them, especially if you are driving home… in an Aston Martin DB5.