“Martini. Shaken, not stirred.” James Bond’s quintessential quote, as famous as the deadly booze hound himself, likely sparked the recent study by liver specialists at the University of Nottingham. In the study, they spent a year scrutinizing the 14 books written by James Bond creator, Ian Fleming. Their findings were quite enlightening, illuminating a problem that has plagued mankind since he first learned to make liquor.
The report, published in the British Journal of Medicine, revealed that James Bond drank, on average, six to seven martinis a day. That is some serious long-term drinking. It’s revealed that over the course of the books, Bond has had only 13 days alcohol-free. An extended bender occurs in From Russia With Love when Bond consumes 50 units of alcohol in a single day. In the book You Only Live Twice, he has his heaviest bender while suffering from the death of his wife.
A chart generated as part of the study has Bond’s alcohol consumption peaking at almost 200 units a week in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and tipping the scales at over 225. A unit of alcohol (the amount of pure alcohol in a drink) varies from country to country, with it being 7.9 grams in the United Kingdom, 10 grams in Australia, and 14 grams in the United States. It is believed consuming three to four units a day poses no significant health risks, with it being slightly lower for women. Beyond that, risks include liver disease, alcoholism and malnutrition, high blood pressure and, in some cases, death by alcohol poisoning.
The image of James Bond, the cultured booze hound, functioning at the levels he does is inconsistent with the levels possible in real life. Bond shouldn’t be able to recall codes, remember female companions or participate in high-caliber fights. He wouldn’t even be able to shoot straight. In the 123.5 actual days of face time in the books, researchers say Bond consumed 1,150 units of alcohol and was likely more at risk from drunk driving and liver disease than actually being shot. One researcher admitted that Bond was not a man to be trusted with diffusing a nuclear bomb. Others say his level of sexual function shouldn’t be possible.
The study was conducted during the researchers’ spare time and was intended to be light-hearted. However, the results were anything but. When Bond’s alcohol consumption was quantified, the researchers were appalled by how high his intake was. He shouldn’t have been able to stir his own drinks from the tremors produced—much less be able to successfully throw knees, elbows and fists as effectively as he’s shown to do.
A darker side to the subject of Bond’s drinking habits has to do with the glamorous image of the virile handsome man enhancing his life with alcohol; the cultured booze hound fighting for Queen and Country. In reality, in far too many cases, alcoholism is a central factor to such situations as domestic violence, vehicular manslaughter, suicide and a host of other societal ills.
By Lee Birdine