Spirits & Cocktails

Snooth User: Daniel Petroski

Vesper Martini

Posted by Daniel Petroski, Apr 14, 2009.

Ok, had a good Friday night last week. Opened a bottle of the 06 Zeitgeist Cabernet, made a homemade pasta sauce and watched the new Bond, Quantum of Solace. First off, the feel, the vibe, the motion of the movie all seemed very Jason Bourne-ish. What happened to the good old Bond ? The one moment when I thought we would see the true British booze-hound was when he was on a chartered plane, unable to sleep, and drinking the original Bond Martini from Casino Royale, the Vesper. Three parts Gin, one part Vodka, a half of Lillet. However, as the bartender relates, Bond was on his sixth drink. That is not the suave, sophisticated James Bond we have come to know and love - even if this is the prequel, portray the guy with an innate sense of drinking style. Did anyone feel the same way about this movie and its binge action and drinking modernity flaws ?

Replies

67
695
Reply by gr, Apr 15, 2009.

Although "Quantum of Solace" is more of an amalgam than a direct lift, in contrast with "Casino Royale" (a fairly direct adaption of the first novel), both of the recent Bond films starring Daniel Craig, are based much more accurately on Ian Flemming's originals.

Yes, the cinematography is obviously influenced by more recent movies like the Bourne trilogy, but these are, in fact, more true to the Real Bond. If your idea of Bond is defined by the movies, which started out campy and only got worse, you should really read the books, which were always much better described as noir.

176
64
Reply by Daniel Petroski, Apr 15, 2009.

Thanks, gr. Any recommendations on which book to start with ? Or maybe one book per actor so that I can read and then re-watch the movies ? Thanks for your reply.

67
695
Reply by gr, Apr 15, 2009.

Many of the movies have nothing to do with any novel or even short story, even though Ian Flemming was involved in the enterprise beyond name alone at least some of the time. I don't actually recall without doing some research which do and don't, but the earlier ones are more likely to match up (although the titles change sometimes).

I'd start at the beginning, with "Casino Royale", especially since there's a recent example against which to compare it (bearing in mind that the screenplay was very purposely altered to be set in the present day).

Back on the topic of the Vesper, however: it does appear that Flemming created it in that book, much after the Martinez and mutated into the Martini (but before people started taking their martinis ridiculously dry, and even with vodka), but it presents as something of a throwback on that spectrum, flavor-wise. It's too bad Bond didn't ask for some orange bitters, that would have been a nice historical touch.

176
64
Reply by Daniel Petroski, Apr 17, 2009.

gr: do you think that the Orange Bitters would have accentuated the faint orange flavored character of the Lillet in the drink; thus, over powering the other flavors or creating more layers of depth and complexity ? I guess the only way to find out is to try it. I will, early next week and report back.... thanks again for your insight(s).

67
695
Reply by gr, Apr 17, 2009.

Generally, bitters do accentuate flavors already present in a cocktail more than bring their own to it. (If you want to taste bitters on their own, put several more dashes than you normally would on ice in a glass and top it with seltzer). That said, most brand's orange bitters do hold on to a bit of actual orange flavor even in a drink. Of the ones your likely to find at retail, I like Regan's best, don't much care for Fee's (as with most of what Fee's makes, they're not exactly subtle), and find Angostura's recently-added (at least on these shores) offering a bit bland.

I'm suggesting them here because, traditionally, the Martini (and the Martinez before it) was made with a healthy dose of orange bitters. After quite some time drinking dry martinis because I didn't know any better, I've started taking martinis somewhere between 1:1 and 3:1 (gin:vermouth) depending on the quality of the vermouth (or Lillet Blonde works well too, as in the Vesper) with the orange bitters and it's a MUCH more interesting drink.

67
695
Reply by gr, Apr 17, 2009.

Ugh. "brands'" and "you're". Tsk!

244
772
Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 17, 2009.

On the subject of the new Bond, QoS, I agree that it is very modern, action-packed and Jason Bourne-esque. The frenetic cuts in the action sequences were hard to follow and annoying. Can you tell what was going on in that car chase in the Alps at the beginning?
This really disappointed me. The movie was enjoyable, but it lacks the wit, exoticism and uniqueness that were present in Craig's Casino Royale. Without these elements, the line that separates a Bond film from an action film starring Daniel Craig gets blurred.

What is odd is that Martin Campbell (director of CR) is much more of an action director having done 2 Zorro films and Vertical limit after his bond directorial debut in Goldeneye. Whereas, Marc Forster who did QoS is not really an action film director at all having done films like Monster's Ball and Finding Neverland before Bond. So, the action orientation of QoS must have come from the writing and production staff. I think Eon Productions/Danjaq must be careful in future films because the new Casino Royale brought people back to the franchise - I remember many people my parents' age raving about how smart it was. Everyone to whom I've spoken about QoS had more of an "it was entertaining" kind of opinion.

As an aside, I thought the first Timothy Dalton movie, The Living Daylights, was brilliant with Dalton playing a very cold, hard-edged Bond. It was a welcome antidote to the long in the tooth Roger Moore (although A View to A Kill is so bad it's good). However, the 2nd Dalton film in 1989, License to Kill was very violent - it might be the bloodiest of the Bonds and was the first to graduate from the PG to PG-13 rating. Maybe they were trying to suit the times (Terminator, Rambo, etc), but it didn't work. It was, in relative terms, the biggest box office flop in Bond history and set the franchise back 6 whole years while they retooled with Brosnan (who, incidentally, they wanted to replace Moore with anyway, but he couldn't get out of his Remington Steele contract in 1984/1985). I believe that License to Kill and Quantum of Solace are the only Bonds to not gross more in the US than it cost to make them (yes, QoS had an absurd budget north of $200 million). Fortunately, Bond is a global franchise, so they more than covered there costs with the international receipts.

However, gr is correct that Bond is pretty dark and one-sided in the books. Hats off to the Albert Broccoli and Connery for developing the fun, campy style of Bond. Without this, I don't think the movie franchise would have taken off. Ironically, if Fleming had conceived of Bond as such a fun and campy spy, I don't think anyone would have bothered to read the books. Such is life.

Ian Fleming wasn't really involved in the movies much anyway. Bond had a long, tortured history getting to the big screen. By the time he did, Fleming only lived to see 2 movies released (Dr. No & From Russia with Love). Way too much has been written about Bond Chronology, but the movies do not follow the books at all (http://books.google.com/books?id=ua...).
The movie order is familiar to most, but the novels started with CR, Live & Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds, etc. Only later did they get to SPECTRE with Goldfinger, Dr. No, Thunderball and OHMSS.

So Casino Royale is a good a place as any to start... and it has Vesper Lynd (a terrible pun on West Berlin that is totally lost on most of us), the Vesper and Baccarat. However, its not really a great book and is pretty short. I must strongly recommend On Her Majesty's Secret Service. This is my favorite of the novels... and, you know what, despite all the flack that George Lazenby gets, the movie might be #2 (to From Russia with Love, of course) for me.

At long last, cutting to the chase, the Vesper, while a worthy cocktail, always struck me as an anachronistic 50s cocktail. Vodka was almost totally unheard of in 1954 so it is used as a complement to gin? How many other famous cocktails contain 2 white base spirits? If you are thinking Brass Monkey then go home, please. So Bond's order of a pretentious Lillet Martini with a dab of Vodka and prepared by shaking is a bit of an inside joke. By the way, although Bond is portrayed on film as Mr. Martini, he is imbibing Scotch and Sodas all over the place in the books.

At some point (maybe this summer?) I hope to reread all the books and short stories with an eye towards the wines and cocktails mentioned therein.

244
772
Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 17, 2009.

Dan, you'll be pleased to know that gr and I got off topic and on to James Bond and the Vesper (and even The West Wing) before in his Martini recipe thread.

Please see:
http://www.snooth.com/talk/topic/re...

20
7556
Reply by dmcker, Apr 18, 2009.

Bond/Fleming also liked his champers. And very precisely defined breakfasts with one boiled egg and his favorite brand of marmalade. Over and over again.

I've read that Roger Moore was Fleming's first choice for Bond, but he couldn't get out of his The Saint series commitment and the movie's hadn't taken off yet so he didn't really know what he was missing until later. By which point former circus strongman Sean C. never stopped to look back (a very interesting guy, too, who I've drank with in Tokyo). Would have been interesting to see what a younger Moore might have done with the role. Moore's later interpretations were so bad as to be campy, and in no way helped the franchise, I feel. Since I read all of Fleming's books in the 7th grade and viewed Bond as one of my early 'heroes' (of course by the end of high school the word no longer even existed in my personal dictionary) I took Moore as an affront. Connery defined the role with his physicality. Only Craig has made us feel the physical danger again, but not as realistically as Connery. I never felt Dalton was at all credible in that area, nor even Brosnan. Both Dalton and Brosnan, however, had to deal with increasingly fantastic scripts since all original material written by Fleming had long since been exhausted. Perhaps that's a big reason why we all felt Casino Royale to be a breath of fresh air--because it hadn't been done by the 'official' producers before, and it was a step back to the tapstone of the Bond mythos.

RB, do you really think that Aussie wanker made a good Bond? I saw the film when I was quite young but quickly understood a number of deprecations I'd heard about bad acting and was able to remember them all while suffering through On Her Majesty's Secret Service (and I thought it was the poorest performing at the box office). I do agree that book is one of the best, although From Russia with Love remains my favorite in memory. I remember Casino Royale as being quite different from the rest. Quite short, and Fleming was just roughing out Bond's character and milieu. His mastery was much more obvious in his later books.

DP, my recommendation would be that you start at the beginning with CR, then read the others in order of publication for as long as you want to keep reading. I read them all in a very few weeks way back when. Maybe it's time to put in an order to Amazon and read through them again.

Oh, and I like my martinis with vodka (can't drink gin for some reason), and dry, but also dirty with plenty of olives. Never a boring cocktail for me, but I've traveled so much that I don't try too many concoctions on bartenders I'm not confident about. Even margaritas and martinis are a stretch in many parts of the world. And I often end up having to make my own bloody mary's at beach bars...

176
64
Reply by Daniel Petroski, Apr 20, 2009.

Thanks, Gents, for all the interesting insight on the novels. You've inspired me with a laundry list of good summer reading (and drinking) ahead.

244
772
Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Apr 21, 2009.

dmcker, As I read your post, I was waiting for the inevitable OHMSS Aussie wanker reference. I strongly suggest you revisit the movie - it is not as bad as advertised. I will consent that Lazenby isn't a great Bond, but he's certainly equal to Dalton and better than Moore.

The real question is how much of Fleming's original genius is carrying OHMSS? I'm not sure that the leisure suit and toupee wearing Connery of YOTL & Diamonds would have been able to do much better. Additionally, Lazenby's stoic physicality is perfect for that particular script.

20
7556
Reply by dmcker, Apr 21, 2009.

Not hard to be better than Moore. My negative memory of OHMSS and Lazenby is still quite strong from back when it first came out (and quickly disappeared). Will take your advice and revisit it, though.

I believe Connery also had hair enhancements on his chest, as well. The '60s were a different era, indeed. Bourne would wax, I'm sure...

67
695
Reply by gr, Jun 11, 2009.

Wow. I'm revisiting this much after the fact, so I'll be brief.

I was also disappointed by QoS, taken for itself, but I liked the continuity (at least for a few episodes) that it both maintained and suggested, and I hope to see my patience for it rewarded as the background story arc swings back around. I think that I'm going to have to lay into actually reading the books right on through, rather than spottily, before I make any assertions relative to them again, for which, perhaps, that Kindle I've been on the verge of giving into would make a good platform.

As for Mr. Craig, if any of you who enjoy him as Bond haven't seen "Layer Cake", well, shame on you. I'm convinced that it's his performance in that role that got him Bond. (Plausible alternates include Jason Statham, where I'm not convinced they won't go next, nor am I willing to come down on either side of the fence about how well he'd do.)

20
7556
Reply by dmcker, Jun 11, 2009.

Don't see Statham, even if he is an interesting option. He's been identified with too many light-hearted chop-sockey roles to achieve the gravitas the franchise owners seem to desire for Bond. I imagine a perceived lack of that is one reason why Jackman didn't get the nod this time around, but who knows next time (although he may have become too much of a star in his own right by that time--they also seem to want lesser stars who can potentially be seen as Bond, rather than a big star playing Bond, at least at the time they first take on the role...).

Sure it wasn't his Tombraider role that got Craig the nod? ;-)

20
7556
Reply by dmcker, Sep 11, 2009.

Gr, recently saw Layer Cake, and agree with you about the likelihood of it serving as Craig's springboard to Bond. On RBoulanger's recommendation I also re-viewed OHMSS with Lazenby. He was still campily, woodenly bad (he looked nearly as ridiculous running as Moore did, though for different reasons), but I didn't feel the sharp disappointment that I had when I first watched the movie and wanted to see Connery up on the screen rather than Lazenby...

Also, just saw this quote from Richard Burton on IMDB:
"I almost replaced Sean Connery as James Bond in Thunderball (1965). This was before Sean played Bond. My friend, the Irish producer Kevin McClory, wanted me. Kevin worked for Michael Todd on Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) and I was impressed with his Irish rebelliousness. We Welsh have that, too, but not quite like the Irish, who transfuse it into their blood on the same day they are born. McClory promised [Alfred Hitchcock] would direct and I had great hopes for the project. It fell through, of course - and later Kevin made a bloody fortune, when Sean was Bond. I wonder sometimes how it might all have turned out. [Ian Fleming] was big on me for the role. Stewart Granger was next in line."


Back to Categories

Top Contributors This Month

125836 Snooth User: dmcker
125836dmcker
89 posts
127503 Snooth User: rckr1951
127503rckr1951
80 posts
262583 Snooth User: Richard Foxall
262583Richard Foxall
65 posts

Categories

View All




Snooth Media Network