Li­censed to swill

Docs ex­plain why James bond prefers his mar­ti­nis ‘shaken, not stirred’.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By KAREN KA­PLAN

SCI­EN­TISTS know that the best way to make a vodka mar­tini is to mix the in­gre­di­ents with a thin wooden spoon – it com­bines the in­gre­di­ents ef­fec­tively with­out rais­ing the drink’s tem­per­a­ture the way a metal stir­rer would. So why would James Bond, the world’s most so­phis­ti­cated mar­tini drinker, rou­tinely or­der his cock­tail “shaken, not stirred”?

A trio of Bri­tish med­i­cal re­searchers be­lieve they have the an­swer: the heavy-drink­ing 007 most likely suf­fered from an al­co­holin­duced tremor that forced him to shake his mar­ti­nis. In fact, they ar­gue, the Bri­tish Se­cret In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice agent with a li­cence to kill con­sumed so much al­co­hol that he ought to be dead.

“Ide­ally, vodka mar­ti­nis should be stirred, not shaken,” the re­searchers re­port in the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal’s Christ­mas is­sue. “That Bond would make such an ele­men­tary mis­take in his pref­er­ences seemed in­con­gru­ous with his oth­er­wise im­pec­ca­ble mas­tery of culi­nary eti­quette.”

The BMJ’s Christ­mas is­sue is known for its wacky med­i­cal re­ports, but the au­thors who di­ag­nosed James Bond took the mat­ter quite se­ri­ously. For starters, they used the books by Sir Ian Flem­ing as their source ma­te­rial, not the movies.

Two of the 14 books were ex­cluded from the anal­y­sis – The Spy Who Loved Me was dropped be­cause it was told from the point of view of a wait­ress who doesn’t in­tro­duce Bond un­til two-thirds of the way into the story, and Oc­to­pussy And The Liv­ing Day­lights failed to make the cut be­cause it’s a se­ries of short sto­ries. The other 12 books were read by the study au­thors, curled up at home in “comfy” chairs.

As they read, the re­searchers took de­tailed notes about Bond’s ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing his drink­ing. They looked up drink recipes on Wikipedia to fig­ure out the in­gre­di­ents in each of his cock­tails. In cases where the sto­ry­line was vague – for ex­am­ple, Bond “got drunk” or there was an or­der to “bring in the drink tray” – the re­searchers made “rel­a­tively con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates in the con­text of his over­all drink­ing habits”, ac­cord­ing to the study. Then they crunched all their num­bers.

The study au­thors cal­cu­late that the to­tal elapsed time in the 12 nov­els added up to 123.5 days, dur­ing which 007 con­sumed 9,201.2g of pure al­co­hol. (That’s not the com­bined vol­ume of his many cock­tails – that’s just the amount of 200-proof ethanol.) This works out to 521.6g of pure al­co­hol per week, or 74.5g per day.

For the sake of com­par­i­son, the Bri­tish Na­tional Health Ser­vice ad­vises men not to ex­ceed 168g of al­co­hol per week, with no more than 32g on a sin­gle day and at least two days per week that are al­co­hol-free.

Among Bond’s 123.5 recorded days, 48.5 were al­co­hol-free. But on 36 of those days, he was not al­co­hol-free by choice. On th­ese oc­ca­sions, he was locked up in jail, laid up in a hos­pi­tal or do­ing a stint in re­hab and un­able to im­bibe. Tak­ing those days out of the equa­tion, the 9,201.2g over 87.5 days av­er­ages out to 738g of pure al­co­hol per week, or 105.1g per day.

But that’s just an av­er­age. The peak of 007’s drink­ing came on Day 3 of the mis­sion de­scribed in From Rus­sia With Love. Dur­ing that 24-hour pe­riod, 007 drank a whop­ping 398.4g of pure al­co­hol, the study au­thors cal­cu­lated.

To con­sume that much al­co­hol, you’d have to down about 14 vodka mar­ti­nis (as­sum­ing they’re made with 100 proof vodka, the strong­est op­tion listed on the handy cock­tail con­tent cal­cu­la­tor from the US Na­tional In­sti­tute on Al­co­hol Abuse and Al­co­holism, one of the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health). If you’re drink­ing some­thing more tame, like beer or wine, it would take about 25 glasses to get the same amount of al­co­hol.

Th­ese drink­ing habits would put Bond at se­ri­ous risk of some se­ri­ous dis­eases, in­clud­ing hy­per­ten­sion, stroke, de­pres­sion and sex­ual dys­func­tion, “which would con­sid­er­ably af­fect his wom­an­is­ing”, the study notes.

Most im­por­tant, the study au­thors say, Bond’s risk of de­vel­op­ing liver cir­rho­sis is at least seven times greater than for a non­drinker. A per­son with cir­rho­sis dies at age 59, on av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to the BMJ study.

Flem­ing, a heavy drinker and smoker, died of heart disease when he was only 56, and “we sus­pect that Bond’s life ex­pectancy would be sim­i­lar”, the re­searchers write. Bond him­self had even lower ex­pec­ta­tions: In Moon­raker, he says he ex­pects to be killed be­fore he turns 45 and is forced to re­tire from the “00” sec­tion of MI6.

Per­haps this helps ex­plain why: in Goldfin­ger, Bond drives home af­ter con­sum­ing 144g of pure al­co­hol in an evening with Auric Goldfin­ger. And in Casino Royale, 007 has 312g of al­co­hol be­fore par­tic­i­pat­ing in a high­speed car chase that lands him in the hos­pi­tal for two weeks. “We hope that this was a salu- tatory les­son,” the study au­thors write.

Get­ting back to the is­sue of Bond’s shaken mar­ti­nis, the re­searchers cite a 2009 study in the Jour­nal Of Neu­rol­ogy, Neu­ro­surgery & Psy­chi­a­try that pegged heavy drinkers as hav­ing a four times greater risk of de­vel­op­ing an es­sen­tial tremor com­pared to light drinkers.

Es­sen­tial tremor is an un­in­ten­tional rhyth­mic mus­cle move­ment of one or more parts of the body, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Neu­ro­log­i­cal Dis­or­ders & Stroke. The most com­mon body part af­fected is the hand, the in­sti­tute says.

“James Bond was un­likely to be able to stir his drinks, even if he would have wanted to, be­cause of likely al­co­hol-in­duced tremor,” the re­searchers con­clude.

Bond’s heavy drink­ing may have been a re­sponse to his job stress as well as his need to rub el­bows with folks who aren’t ex­actly tee­to­talers, the study au­thors note.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the so­ci­etal pres­sures to con­sume al­co­hol when work­ing with in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ists and high-stakes gam­blers.”

But that’s no ex­cuse for be­ing such a lush, the re­searchers add. “We would ad­vise Bond be re­ferred for fur­ther as­sess­ment of his al­co­hol in­take and re­duce his in­take to safe lev­els.”

They are doc­tors, af­ter all. — Los An­ge­les Times / McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

The num­bers don’t lie: charts tally the num­ber of drinks con­sumed by bri­tish su­per spy James bond in the books writ­ten by Sir Ian Flem­ing from 1953-1965, and the char­ac­ter’s av­er­age weekly con­sump­tion in each book. a bri­tishmed­i­calJour­nal study has de­ter­mined bond would be a se­ri­ous al­co­holic. — Los an­ge­les Times/mcT

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.