Monday, February 3, 2014

Ian Fleming's Goldfinger (1964) Part I

Illustration by Peter Lorenz
In my post on Ian Fleming's From Russia With Love (1963), I stated that From Russia With Love held the distinction of being my favorite of all the Bond movies. Now if there was ever a Bond flick to knock it off the top perch its this one: Ian Fleming's Goldfinger (1964). Goldfinger is a favorite of mine since this one takes a different tact than the prior Bond flicks. As Joseph Walsh (@NitrateStock) of the website Nitrate Stock describes it: Bond is basically held captive the majority of the movie. The action indeed unfolds around him up to the end, often with Bond just watching. In terms of alcoholic drinks, this movie stands out. Goldfinger is the first Bond movie where the setting shifts to the United States. With the action taking place here in the States, specifically in Kentucky, the movie sheds light on the true spirit of the United States: Bourbon. Before, I go into how Bourbon is shown in the movie, there are a few other instances where other spirits are shown in Goldfinger.

It seems that (at least for the first three Bond movies) that there is a swapping of Champagne brands. In Ian Fleming's Dr. No (1962) Dom Pérignon is the preferred Champagne brand with the '55 and '53 vintages being mentioned in the film. In From Russia With Love, Taittinger's Brut La Française and Blanc de Blancs are prominently shown. In Goldfinger, the pendulum swings back in favor of Dom Pérignon. In the scene where Bond is in bed with soon to be unemployed Goldfinger personal assistant Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), Bond takes out an empty bottle from the ice filled champagne bucket. We see that it is a bottle of Dom Pérignon.

When Bond states that they need another bottle, and that he indeed has another bottle in the refigerator, he states:
"My dear girl, there are some things that just aren't done, such as drinking Dom Perignon '53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That's as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs!"

I guess Bond isn't a fan of the fab four. Anyway, we see the bottle laying next to Bond after Oddjob karate chops Bond into La-la land. Bond wakes up to find Jill Masterson a victim of death by gold paint. Bond realizes that Goldfinger is a vicious adversary.

The scene shifts to London where Bond meets with MI-6 Head (Bernard Lee), orders Bond to accompany him to dinner with Colonel Smithers (Richard Vernon) to further discuss the Goldfinger situation. Colonel Smithers is ready to enjoy a cigar when he starts the following conversation:

Colonel Smithers: Have a little more of this rather disappointing brandy.
M: What's the matter with it?
James Bond: I'd say it was a 30-year-old fine, indifferently blended, sir... with an overdose of bon-bois.
M: Colonel Smithers is giving the lecture, 007.

M's snarkiness aside, I had no idea about what Bond meant in terms of this particular brandy. With that in mind, off I went to find out more.

According to the Le Cognac website's entry for Bon Bois:
Bons Bois: Cognac is rarely born of a single eau-de-vie or a single growing area, but generally from a blend of different ages and crus, sometimes up to a hundred of them. It can be made also exclusively from certain “cru”, for example exclusively from “Grande Champagne”, but of different ages.

Bons Bois : less chalky but more earthy soil of 16,000 hectares that is well reflected in the eau de vie. goes into further detail on the Bons Bois Appellation:
In the Bons bois crus, we find sandy soils on coastal locations, in certain valleys, and most especially in all the southern part of the vineyard. These are sands that have eroded from the Massif Central. Vines are quite dispersed, mixed with other crops, surrounded by forests of pine trees and chestnuts. The Bons Bois form a vast belt, of which 9,308 ha (hectares) are destined to Cognac production. 
In terms of what the term "Fine" means, Cognac World's article on Reading the Label (of a Cognac Bottle) describes it as so:
The term "Fine" is authorised by the law of 1938 and qualifies a vintage spirit. For example, a "Grande Fine Champagne" qualifies a Grande Champagne vintage cognac assembled with spirits that come solely from the Grande Champagne region.

On the other hand, the "Fine Champagne" appelation qualifies a cognac with at least 50% of Grande Champagne spirits and the rest from Petite Champagne.

A "Bons Bois" ou "Fine Bons Bois" cognac contains 100% of spirits from the Bons Bois area.
Well, I hope that clarifies to you what Bond meant when he described the brandy to M and Colonel Smithers. I have to say that I need to do some more hands on research on Brandy. Onward we go into Bond and Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe).

By the time Bond is on Goldfinger's personal jet headed towards the United States, he's beaten Goldfinger at golf, followed him to Vienna, been captured, almost had his bollocks (to use a British term) burned off by a laser, was sedated and woke up to the beauty of Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) staring him in the face. It is here that he is offered a drink by Mei Ling. Bond as to form orders his standard: Martini, shaken not stirred.

Now Bond doesn't specify the specify the spirit, but based on his track record up to now we can assume that he's having a Vodka Martini. In the background you can see the bar is stocked with a Martini and Rossi Rosso and Extra Dry Vermouth Bottles.

The Martini and Rossi name has been in business since 1863 producing vermouths and wines. Their website describes their origins as such:
The story of MARTINI® begins with the combination of three very different personalities. Alessandro Martini was a gifted salesman, Teofilo Sola the dependable accountant and Luigi Rossi, creative herbalist and liqueur expert. Any one of them could have made a solo bid for the company, but in the spirit of collaboration, they pooled their talents instead. ‘Martini, Sola e C.ia’ burst into life as a team; forward thinking and with everything to play for.

For wine expert Luigi Rossi, excellent vermouth was the top priority. He wanted to be close to the hills where he could source the best grapes and herbs, but he was also commercially minded, so he encouraged the team to step out of its comfort zone. Searching further afield, Martini, Sola e C.ia chanced upon a piece of land in Pessione, Italy, next to the Turin-Genoa railway. An ideal spot for a production plant which would be the key to the company’s rapid international expansion...Instead of playing safe, they shipped crates of their vermouth across the Atlantic Ocean to New York on a steamship named Hermann. A year later, the figures confirmed, ‘Martini, Sola e C.ia exported three quarters of the vermouth sold in the USA’.
In terms of the Extra Dry Vermouth:
Launched on new year's day in 1900, MARTINI® Extra Dry uses a complex blend that delivers the delicate key notes of the many botanicals it uses. MARTINI® Extra Dry is one of the two key ingredients in one of the most famous cocktails in the world: The Dry Martini Cocktail...
And the Rosso Vermouth:
Luigi Rossi's original vermouth recipe was developed in the 1860s and became one of the most celebrated of Piedmont's aromatic wines. A wine base is blended with rich Italian herbs such as Artemesia and Dittany and other aromatics. It is this special blend of ingredients that gives MARTINI® Rosso its unique taste and made it the original ingredient in many classic cocktails including the Negroni or Manhattan...
When I started writing this post, I didn't think that it would be so long. Especially since I have yet to even touch on Bourbon. For my next post, I will focus exclusively on how Bourbon is shown in Ian Fleming's Goldfinger (1964) Part II, including the cocktail enjoyed by many during the Kentucky Derby: The Mint Julep

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla