Friday, January 24, 2014

Ian Fleming's From Russia With Love (1963)

From Russia With Love (1963) holds the distinction of being my favorite of all the Bond movies. Something about this movie says non-stop action. It starts with Grant (Robert Shaw) stalking the man made to look like James Bond to the final battle with Colonel Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya). What I find is that the movie is missing are many references to alcohol. I can't fully say this with certainty but this might the Bond flick that has the least amount of instances where Bond has a drink.

After the opening sequence, the scene shift to Bond having himself a nice afternoon off with his squeeze Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson). Trench has the honor of being the only woman to be involved with Bond in two consecutive movies. While lounging by the stream where a rowing crew glides by, Bond has a rope wrapped around his foot. When he pulls up on the rope, he lifts a bottle of Taittinger Brut La Française from the water and claims that its not cold enough and puts it back in the water.

According to the Taittinger website:
Taittinger Brut La Française is composed of Chardonnay (40%) and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (60%) from over 35 different crus and various harvests matured to perfection. This high proportion of Chardonnay, unique among the fine non-vintage Champagnes, and a minimum ageing of three years in the cellar where it reaches full aromatic maturity, make Taittinger Brut La Française a delicately balanced Champagne known for its consistent quality acclaimed worldwide. It is the proud of Champagne Taittinger to produce such an exceptional non-vintage Brut.
In terms of taste:
A brilliant golden yellow in colour. The bubbles are fine, while the foam is discreet yet lingering. The nose, very open and expressive, delivers aromas of fruit and brioche. Fragrances are reminiscent of peach, white flowers (hawthorne, acacia) and vanilla. The palate is livey, crisp and harmonious. This is delicate wine with flavours of fresh fruit and honey. Taittinger Brut La Française, which acquires its maturity during three or four years of ageing in the cellar, offers excellent aromatic potential.
After Bond is sent to Turkey, he meets his contact: Head of Station T Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendáriz). After some reconnaissance with Bey, he joins him at the gypsy camp. They are seated at the elder's table and served some Raki.

According to the website:
In the near and middle east countries the drink is known by different names such as Araka, Araki, Ariki which obviously come from the same origin. Some claim that it is called Iraqi (from Iraq) because it was first made in this country and spread to other regions. Others say it got its name from the razaki grapes used in producing it. Both theories are acceptable. Another theory is that arak in Arabic means "sweat" and araki " that which makes one sweat." If one drinks too much raki one does sweat and when raki is being distilled it falls drop by drop like sweat, so the name could have come from Arabic. In neighboring countries different kinds of raki have different names. In Greece gum is added to it and the drink is called "Mastika". Duziko which comes from the slavic word "Duz" means raki with aniseed. In Turkey, raki made from grape residue used to be called Düz Raki or Hay Raki. Zahle raki has taken this name because it is made in the city of Zahle in Lebanon. Raki is not a fermentation drink like wine and beer but a distillation drink, so more technical knowledge and equipment are necessary for its production. Encyclopedias write that in "Eastern India a drink produced by distilling fermented sugar cane juice is called "arak" and the same name is given Ceylon and Maleysia to an alcoholic drink made by the distillation of the juice of the palm tree. It is also noted that in Iran the drink made in the same way from grapes and dates is also called arak.

The drink made in Anatolia and known as Turkish raki has a history going back 300 years. The art of distillation which started in the Arab world and spread to the neighboring countries was implemented when people thought of making use of the sugar in the residue of wine processing. With the addition of aniseed, raki took on its Turkish characteristic.
Though Raki has was at first made from the leftover grapes used to make wine, today Raki is made from different fruits within different regions with grapes, figs and plums being the main fruits used for Raki production. How should you drink your Raki? Once again according to the Raki website:
The best way to drink Rakı, which is famous as the Turkish national drink, is with flat cylindrical glasses and cold (8-10 degree). One can drink it with water, straight, with soda or mineral water.

Although Rakı which is a distilled alcoholic beverage strongly aromatized with lots of anise, it can be consumed as a cocktail, but more commonly it goes best with cold hors d'oeuvres
What does Raki compare to in terms of other spirits? Kayla Webley in the Time Magazine listing for Raki in the article Top 10 Ridiculously Strong Drinks describes Raki as such:
Originally developed as an alternative to absinthe, raki — its still potent cousin — is popular in Greece, Bosnia and other Balkan countries and is called the national drink of Turkey. Similar to Greek ouzo and Italian grappa, the nonsweet, usually aniseed-flavored spirit was originally produced from the solid residue of the grape — the skin, pulp, seed and stem — that remained after the fruit was pressed to make wine. Today it is made from a variety of fruits, like figs, and is typically served with mezze and makes an especially good complement to fish, feta and cold hors d'oeuvres. When mixed with water, as it is commonly served, the drink turns a milky white, which has resulted in the powerful drink — said to have up to 90% alcohol content — becoming known as lion's milk, or the milk of the brave.
Not only is Raki a suitable apéritif comparable to Ouzo and Grappa, it is also used as an antiseptic as we see when Bond applies some to Kerim Bey's gun shot wound during the gypsy camp's firefight =)

The last reference to an alcoholic beverage is in the scene where Bond, Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), and Grant under the guise of British agent Nash are ordering dinner in the restaurant car on the Orient Express train headed towards Trieste in Northeastern Italy. Bond orders a bottle of Blanc de Blancs while Grant orders a bottle Chianti Red, which tips Bond off since Grant orders the wrong kind of wine with his meal which is fish.

According to's page on Chianti:
Today, Chianti is a source of world-class wines. It has begun to move away from its long-associated image of fiaschi (the squat, straw-covered bottles), and most producers now use the traditional Bordeaux-style bottles that tend to indicate higher-quality wines...Chianti's winemaking zone stretches into the provinces of Prato, Florence, Arezzo, Pistoia, Pisa and Siena....Chianti is characterized by its red and black cherry character, intermingled with notes of wild herbs, mint and spice, supported by a racy acidity and mellow tannins. It must be aged for a minimum of four months, and for the added designation of superiore, it has to age for an additional three months before release. The label riserva indicates that the wine has been aged for at least 38 months.
Food pairings include beef and chicken with pasta and tomato-based sauces. See Grant, had you read up on your wines, you might have gotten the Lektor Decoding Machine after all.

In terms of the Blanc de Blancs, the brand on the table is a Taittinger. According to the's page on Blanc de Blancs:
Blanc de Blancs is Champagne made exclusively from the white grape varieties permitted under the Champagne appellation. Chardonnay is by far the most common, but Pinot Gris (aka Fromenteau Gris), Pinot Blanc and Arbane are also sanctioned for use under the appellation laws. That said, only a very small number of producers make Blanc de Blancs Champagne from anything other than Chardonnay...The style of any Blanc de Blancs is distinct from other Champagnes – most of which are made with high proportions of black-skinned Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Blanc de Blancs means literally 'white of whites' and is thus the exact opposite of Blanc de Noirs. (© All rights reserved, Wine-Searcher.)
The Taittinger website states that while the Blanc de Blancs is a celebratory and ceremonial wine, it is a perfect accompaniment for first courses of seafood and shellfish.

That's that for liquor references in my favorite Bond movie of all. Please feel free to contact me if I missed anything at, to my Twitter @SiscoVanilla, my Google+ at SiscoVaniila and at my Facebook Page SiscoVanilla.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla