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The James Bond Gin & Tonic

This article is by guest writer David T Smith of Summer Fruit Cup.

My second favourite James Bond drink, after the Vesper, would have to be what I call the “James Bond Gin & Tonic” from Fleming’s 1958 book, Dr No. His interpretation of this drink really sets itself apart from your standard G&T.

Bond ordered a double gin and tonic and one whole green lime. When the drink came he cut the lime in half, dropped the two squeezed halves into the long glass, almost filled the glass with ice cubes and then poured in the tonic. He took the drink out on to the balcony, and sat and looked out across the spectacular view.

The James Bond Gin & Tonic: Chapter IV Reception Committee, Dr. No (1958)

The Taste

This drink is incredibly refreshing and it’s not hard to imagine why James Bond ordered one of these to enjoy on his hotel balcony overlooking Kingston Harbour at the Blue Hills hotel; few drinks would have cooled him down so well after his long, transatlantic flight on the Super Constellation aircraft.

The high proportion of lime juice (equivalent to half the amount of gin) appears on the flavour profile of this drink before the familiar flavours of gin and tonic, making it deliciously tart and refreshing. When I first tried this, I thought that the lime juice would overpower the drink, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well-balanced the drink is; Ian Fleming certainly knew his stuff.

This drink has a lot of ice in it, which chills the drink thoroughly, making it a great cooler. You may be worried about excessive ice-melt diluting the drink, but, in my experience, the drink is so cold and so tasty that the ice isn’t given much of a chance to melt.

Despite how great Fleming’s original recipe is, I have a few tips to assist in creating the best possible version of this drink:

1. Use fresh limes

There really is no substitute.

2. Use the right glass

Make sure your glass is large enough to hold the drink: a standard tumbler or thin highball will be too small.

3. Use the right gin

The recipe in Dr. No does not specify a brand of gin to use (unlike the recipe for the Vesper in Casino Royale), but Fleming/Bond is known to have drunk Gordon’s Export, Booth’s, Boodles & Beefeater and any of these would be a good choice. As a general rule, any gin of around 42% ABV (Plymouth being another example) seems to strike a good balance of flavour and strength. The most important point here is to use one that you like; after all, James Bond himself would hardly imbibe with something he didn’t enjoy.

David T Smith runs the blog Summer Fruit Cup, looking at all things related to drink and drinking. Topics covered include tasting and reviews, cocktail history and vintage bar-ware.

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One Response to “The James Bond Gin & Tonic”

  • Matthew Hall

    Just tried this and the lime, though strong, masked the gin nicely. nice mix. I used Bombay Sapphire Gin and Schwepps Tonic

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