James Bond’s original favourite drink

A bottle of Lillet, the famous Bordeaux aperitif

A bottle of Lillet, the famous Bordeaux aperitif, copyright BKWine Photography

We read in Drink Business that alcoholic beverages are a frequent ingredient in the James Bond movies. No big news.

However, maybe you would think that dry martini is the most frequent drink, seeing how well established Bond’s shaken-not-stirred-martini is. That is wrong however. Drink Business has counted, both in the books and in the movies, and the result is that champagne is mentioned 35 times and martini only 22 times, according to The Drinks Business.

When we last visited Bordeaux, with one of our wine tours, we made a quick stop at Lillet in Podensac in the Graves region. Lillet is a very tasty but not so well known aperitif which has been made here since 1872. It is made from white Bordeaux wine, different spices, herbs and oranges.

And where does James Bond enter into the picture? Well, in the first book that Ian Fleming wrote, Casino Royale, published in 1953, Bond orders a cocktail that he later calls Vesper (after the leading female character in the book). The cocktail is made out of vodka, gin and Kina Lillet, the original name for Lillet, the amount of quinine has later been reduced.

Even though Bond seems to enjoy his Vesper (the cocktail) very much it is never mentioned again, in any of the books. A pity for Lillet!

The movie Casino Royale from 2006 is however true to the book and Bond orders a Vesper, the ingredients explained very thoroughly to the bartender. I am sure you remember the scene with the card game. And if I remember correctly the villain wants one too.

If you come to Bordeaux (perhaps for our September wine tour to Bordeaux?), do try a Lillet Blanc. And the next time you order a cocktail, why not a Vesper? If nothing else to see if your bartender is in the know.

A cafe terasse in the Bordeaux region a sunny day

A cafe terasse in the Bordeaux region a sunny day, copyright BKWine Photography

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