The literary James Bond and beer

The product-placement deal between Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, and Heineken has gotten some 007 fans worked up. Yahoo! Movie’s MovieTalk blog did an April 4 post summarizing fan reaction. An exerpt:

"Martini, James?"
"No. Make mine Heineken (R)."

“D**** you, Product Placement,” Doug wrote on Twitter in response to our update on @YahooMovies. Davey C simply tweeted “Screw ’em.” Dave Yakir echoed thoughts with a “what a load of crap” tweet, and Keith Williams typed, “Booooo!!!”

The James Bond of Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories was no stranger to beer, though he didn’t drink it with the same frequency as martinis, bourbon, whiskeys and soda or champagne. But here is a sampling:

Diamonds Are Forever (1956): Bond and Felix Leiter are driving to Saratoga from New York City. The duo “stopped for lunch at The Chicken in the Basket, a log-built Frontier-style road-house with standard equipment…(T)he scrambled eggs and sausages and hot buttered rye toast and the Miller Highlife beer came quickly and were good.”

The Living Daylights (1962): Bond is in Berlin. One one of three nights a British agent will cross the border between East and West and 007 is to shoot a KGB assassin. During one afternoon, after a two-hour walk, has a meal in a restaurant. He has two Molle mit Korn, which we’re told is a double schapps “washed down with draught Lowenbrau.”

The Man With the Golden Gun (1965): Trying to get a lead on killer Fransisco Scaramanga, Bond stops by a brothel and orders a Red Stripe beer. The woman taking his order “deftly uncapped the bottle and put it on the counter besides an almost clean glass.”

In 2006, the Brookston Beer Bulletin blog had a long post (CLICK HERE to read it; the post also has a longer list of other times the literary Bond had beer) that addressed the possibility 007 might have a Heinken in that year’s Casino Royale movie. The blog did not approve of that brand.

But Heineken? Not Heineken. Bond’s character would never drink such swill. He wouldn’t be a snob about wine, food, clothes, cars and practically everything else and then drink such a pedestrian beer.


The fictional resort town where most of the (Casino Royale) novel takes place is supposedly near the mouth of the Somme River in the Picardie region, which is only about two hours from Belgium. So while France is not known for its beers, a good selection of Belgian beers would likely be available at the casino and area restaurants. That’s what a beer savvy Bond would order.

We suspect all of this will depend how the Heineken placement is handled. If Daniel Craig’s Bond has a Heineken while still having other drinks, no problem. On the other hand, if it’s handled like this recent Hawaii Five-0 episode with Subway, audiences may wince:

The proprietor of the James Bond Dossier was interviewed by the CBC about product placement and the Heineken deal. Just CLICK HERE to check it out.

UPDATE (April 8): The Web site has weighed in on the subject and you can CLICK HERE to read it. The article starts off with an anecdote that appears to have been taken from the 1998 book Adrian Turner on Goldfinger. We say appears because the quotes are the same as the ones Turner got from interviewing Guy Hamilton. There’s no attribution of the quotes, however.

UPDATE II (April 9): Looks like the Web site of Bloomberg Businessweek also ran a short article on the subject.

7 Responses

  1. The same panic occurred with ‘Casino Royale’, with lots of tabloid trash talk about Bond swapping vodka martinis for lager, and yet the end result in the movie was nothing more than a moderately prominent billboard shot during the Miami Airport sequence: Bond wasn’t seen drinking beer at all. Had the internet been around in 1979 I’m sure there would have been similar uninformed outrage about Bond swapping vodka martinis for 7-Up. In addition, it’s always worth remembering that for better or worse product placement has been part of the Bond world almost from the beginning – it kind of comes with the package – so getting upset about its very existence, as a few fans appear to, seems a little odd to me.

  2. Not too many people know this but the ads of 7-Up in the Moonraker scene is quite funny, since the beverage in 1979 was not available to drink in Brazil.

  3. Lest we forget, Rog smoked a cigar in LALD and TMWTGG. I do not recall Bond firing up any stogies in the books, and certainly neither did Connery or Lazenby.

  4. Wow that Subway product placement is painful! If they do that with Heineken in Skyfall I’m set the background of The James Bond Dossier to black!

  5. I cited Brookston’s post in my blog on Bond switching to Heineken:

    I’m not so disappointed with Bond drinking a beer — as you and Brookston mentioned, there’s precedence — but more so that it is a Heineken! Bond would never select such….swill.

    I came up with 10 scenarios and 10 beers that fit far better and more organically into Bond’s world. Would love you to take a look and comment on my selections… Here’s #10 with links to the successive beers at the end…


  6. […] the 23rd James Bond movie, isn’t going away. How’d that happen? After all, James Bond drank beer in some of Ian Fleming’s original stories. He had beer in some movies, as recently as 2008′s Quantum of Solace, the most recent 007 […]

  7. […] Heineken has had a commercial relationship with the 007 film series for some time now. There was a fuss about Heineken’s product placement in Skyfall, although the literary James Bond was known to have a beer now and then. […]

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