Finding Bond – and his favorite drink – in Jamaica

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A rum-coke seems like an odd choice for toasting the new James Bond movie No Time To Die, but my drinking partner doesn’t like vodka martinis. We sit high above the powdery white Jamaican coast at the Jamaica Inn, once a favorite of Ian Fleming, and the longer we stay, the more out of place my guest’s drink seems. How? ‘Or’ What? Because it is here, in this same bar, I learn, that Fleming designed the famous “shaken and not stirred” martini.

I drink at a table on the terrace which is, I learn, the exact spot Fleming loved so much. Between 1946 and 1964, the Bond author fled Britain for the peace and quiet of Jamaica for two months each winter, where he drew inspiration from Bond novels. It was here that he would relax and socialize with a cohort of war friends – like Noel Coward and Roald Dahl – away from a nation he saw as tirelessly politically correct. Fleming once posed the question, “Would books have been born if I had not lived in the magnificent void of the Jamaican vacation?” to which he replied himself: “I doubt it.

Back at the hostel, General Manager Kyle Mais regales me with this story. “Fleming and a group of friends were having a drink one night when they decided to have martinis,” he says. I feel like he’s told this story once or twice. “But we are in Jamaica, it is hot and humid. So they add ice to the shaker and ask the bartender to shake it for as long as he can. He pours it into a martini glass and that’s where the concept of shaken, not stirred came from.

The Jamaica Inn is one of the many luxury properties across Jamaica that can boast of a James Bond past. And gloriously for Bond fans, very little has changed in the 60 years since Bond’s first film, Dr No, was filmed here. The recognizable locations in this movie and Live & Let Die from 1973 are largely undisturbed by the locals, unchanged over time.


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