Friday, October 21st, 2016

The Ian Fleming centenary


James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming would have been 100 years old today.

Writing was far from being Fleming’s first or expected career. He tried for the army after leaving school, but that didn’t work out, and he sat the exams for the Foreign Office but did not pass high enough to be accepted for a diplomatic career.

In the thirties, he worked briefly for Reuter’s news agency. This gave him invaluable experience of writing fast and accurately. But in order to make more money he became a stockbroker instead – and not a very successful one.

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he was recruited to be the personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, and there, at the Admiralty, he remained throughout the war. It was his experience in this job that was to provide many of the characters and incidents that he was to write about later in the Bond books.

After the war he became foreign manager for Kemsley newspapers, working chiefly for the Sunday Times. But his creative imagination remained under wraps until 1952, When, at the age of 43, he settled down in his house in Jamaica, and produced – in not much more than two months – Casino Royale, the first adventure of James Bond.

The Straight Dope has the story of why the James Bond martini is shaken, not stirred.

There are three main differences between a martini (or a vodka martini) which has been stirred and one which has been shaken. First, a shaken martini is usually colder than one stirred, since the ice has had a chance to swish around the drink more. Second, shaking a martini dissolves air into the mix; this is the “bruising” of the gin you may have heard seasoned martini drinkers complain about–it makes a martini taste too “sharp.” Third, a shaken martini will more completely dissolve the vermouth, giving a less oily mouth feel to the drink.

In a vodka martini, cold is key: a vodka martini that is not ice-cold tastes like lighter fluid. So you shake them. The experience of a traditional martini is more dependent on it being smooth and on not ruining the delicate flavors of the gin. Ergo, one stirs it. Simple enough, no?

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