James Bond’s drinking habits are no government secret. But just how much alcohol did Agent 007 consume in Ian Fleming’s 12 novels and two short-story collections?
Authors of a tongue-in-cheek study published in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal methodically gathered and analyzed data from each Bond book to find out. Their findings showed that Bond was a major alcoholic, in a category of drinkers at highest risk of developing malignancies, depression, hypertension and cirrhosis. Despite his reputation as a womanizer, he likely would have suffered from sexual dysfunction.
And the reason he preferred his vodka martinis “shaken, not stirred,” contrary to proper mixology? He himself would have been unable to stir due to alcohol-induced tremors.
The authors read all 14 James Bond books, took note of every alcoholic drink mentioned and determined the period of days during which those drinks were imbibed.
To calculate Bond’s weekly liquor consumption, alcohol unit levels as determined by Britain's National Health Service were used. A regular vodka martini is three units, for example.
Certain terms were assigned predefined units; “bring in the drink tray” equaled six units, and “serious drinking” or “got drunk” was 20 units. “It is likely that these are an underestimate rather than an overestimate of his intake on these few occasions,” the authors wrote.
The number of days described in the books were counted. Days that couldn’t be determined weren’t taken into account, and days when Bond couldn’t drink (usually because of incarceration or injury) were logged. (Two books were omitted from the study for insufficient information.)
Over a total of 123½ days (excluding 36 days when he wasn’t able to drink), the mean amount of Bond’s liquor consumption was 92 units per week. He drank a total of 9,201.2 grams of straight alcohol. His maximum weekly consumption was during “You Only Live Twice,” when he drank 132 units of alcohol.
According to the health service’s recommendations, an adult man shouldn’t drink more than 21 units a week, or more than four units on any one day, and two days of the week should be alcohol free. Bond, according to the study, was a Category 3 drinker (a consumer of more than 60 grams of alcohol a day).
Bond’s peak daily consumption? That occurred on Day 3 of his mission in “From Russia With Love,” when he drank 398.4 grams of alcohol. To Bond’s credit, it must have been stressful strangling a would-be assassin with his own garrote, hijacking a truck and destroying an enemy helicopter all in a day’s work.