Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | November 15, 2008

Quantum of Solace: No Sazerac

Last month I posted on a piece of advance news about 007’s drink of choice in the latest James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. Via Jeff Fulcher at Cocktail Revolution, I saw that on the eve of its UK release, Rachel Dixon of The Guardian reported that Bond was forsaking the vodka martini in favor of a sazerac in the new movie.

I went to see Quantum of Solace today, expecting to see the sazerac elevated to new heights in American pop culture. Sadly, the one scene where Bond finds himself ordering a drink in a bar, he’s most definitely not drinking sazeracs. In fact, Daniel Craig’s Bond is too drunk to even tell his friend what he’s been drinking; the bartender on a trans-Atlantic flight has to do it for him. And what was Bond drinking? A Gordon’s gin based martini variant.

S. James Snyder of Time writes:

In a scene in the new James Bond movie Quantum of Solace (out in Europe, and premiering in the U.S. this Friday), 007 sits alone in the first class compartment of an international flight, slamming martinis to forget his worries. When asked by a colleague what he’s drinking, a foggy Bond can’t respond; the bartender answers for him.

Snyder goes on to note that in Craig’s first Bond movie, Casino Royale, 007 went from drinking vodka martinis to a Vesper Martini:

The shaken vodka martini era in Bond films lasted almost 25 years, until Daniel Craig took the role of Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale. Reverting to the original recipe from Fleming’s first Bond book, Craig’s 007 ordered a drink he dubbed the Vesper — a hybrid martini that is three parts gin and one part vodka, mixed with a half-ounce of Kina Lillet. Ordering the drink, Bond’s words in the film were an exact echo of the dialogue in Fleming’s 1953 Casino Royale story.

In Quantum of Solace, the cocktail Bond drinks is described as three parts Gordon’s gin, one part vodka, one part white wine vermouth. Is it meant to be the Vesper Martini, which was previously made with Lillet Blanc? Maybe, but there’s no way that’s what was in Craig’s glass included Lillet. It was crystal clear.

So what’s going on here? It’s possible that the UK version of Quantum of Solace included the sazerac, while the American version featured the Vesper Martini in made-for-screen form. In fact, I can’t think of any other explanation for it, as both a major British and a major American publication have reported different cocktails for Bond in this film. I’d love to find out why they went this route. The only thing I can think of is that absinthe is legal and easy to get in the UK, while it is hard to get in the US. Absinthe distillation was only legalized in the US last year and I bet most Americans still don’t know it’s possible to buy it legally here. Far fewer bars carry absinthe than carry Lillet Blanc, so perhaps ubiquity is a justification for keeping the sazerac out of the US version.

Nonetheless it’s disappointing. I was excited to see the sazerac receive prime attention on the silver screen. The potential of having it become popular to the extent that I would be able to walk into a bar anywhere in the US and order a sazerac and get something at least passable (as I can now do with a martini, in part because of its place in Bond movies). I had talked to a number of bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts about the news of the sazerac being Bond’s new drink and pretty much everyone I spoke with was at least curious about what the impact would be, while most were excited.

If I find out any more about what happened to the sazerac in Quantum of Solace, I’ll be sure to pass it along. In the mean time, here’s a recipe for a Vesper Martini.

Vesper Martini
3 oz. Gordon’s Dry Gin
1 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc

Shake with ice and strain into a large cocktail glass. Garnish with a large lemon twist.

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Responses

  1. […] | by Jeff Fulcher Although I haven’t seen the new Bond flick yet, Matt’s “Jigger of Blog” douses my 007 dreams in a cool, crisp, vermouth-soaked reality.  Instead of sipping […]

  2. I was also looking for the Sazerac, and saw it not.
    But Bond is in fact drinking Vespers on the flight. He is directly copying the drink he “invented” last film. The bartender specifies that he’s been instructed to use Lillet Blanc, and says it is “NOT Vermouth”.
    The scene really stood out for me (in part because I like Vespers) because I marveled at how smooth a bit of product placement it was, and wondered how much Lillet paid for it.

    Of course, if you missed it, perhaps it was too subtly done, and Lillet is not getting their money’s worth!

  3. Yeah it was a great scene. There was a nice plug for Lillet but what made it great was a number of other things: Bond is too sauced to even remember what he’s drinking, a first for this character as far as I know. Also the bartender is on the spot and very knowledgeable — a great model for bartenders to aspire to.


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