There is a scene in Die Another Day that likely had Bond enthusiasts tearing their hair out. It’s 2002, and Pierce Brosnan’s suave take on the super-spy has just watched Halle Berry channel Ursula Andress — sashaying out of the ocean — when he offers her a sip of his drink. But the drink in question isn’t his classic Martini. It’s not the Scotch & Soda or Old Fashioned 007 favoured in the books. It’s not even a Craig-era Heineken. No. It is — prepare to shudder — a Mojito.
But we can see why. Brosnan’s Bond is the only incarnation of the spy so far to set foot in Cuba, and he did it twice (in both Die Another Day and Goldeneye). So the rum-based, sun-soaked Mojito — while having little footing in Fleming’s fiction — is forgivable. It’s what’s in Bond’s other hand that will really rile the purists: a fat Cuban cigar.
Because devout readers of Fleming’s books will know that, in all of the author’s 12 novels and two short story collections that feature the spy, 007 never once lights up a cigar. In fact, Fleming seems to have a personal vendetta against stogies. He uses the smell of cigar smoke as a byword for cheapness or sadness throughout his works — and even has the villain of Thunderball, Emilio Largo, deploy a Corona brand cigar as a device of torture.
It’s nasty stuff. And the Bond of the books, as Casino Royale reads, was a cigarette man through-and-through. He went through around 70 a day, smoking “a Balkan and Turkish mixture made for him by Morlands of Grosvenor Street”. But he wasn’t overly fussy. Bond smokes Chesterfields in the Bahamas, Royal Blends in Jamaica, Diplomates in Istanbul and Shinseis in Japan. But never, ever, cigars.
And yet, Eon’s ongoing film franchise has never shied away from cigars. Brosnan was seen to entertain them everywhere from the Cuban coast to the banks of Bilbao. Connery even sparked up once — albeit in the non-official Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again. And Roger Moore, across his seven films, made cigars almost as synonymous with the super-spy as the Martini we mentioned above. So that’s where we’ll begin…
The Montecristo Especial No.1 Cigar
When Roger Moore stepped into the iconic role — for 1973’s Live and Let Die — he had one of the film industry’s most outrageous riders in history written into his contact. During his tenure as the man from MI6, which would go on to total seven films, he demanded an unlimited supply of fine cigars. Not only that, he also wanted his Bond to be the first to eschew cigarettes — and plump for cigars instead.
His chosen brand? Montecristos. And he smoked several on screen during his time as Bond. But perhaps the most popular was the Especial No.1 — which makes its fiery debut in Live and Let Die when Moore’s Bond uses it to light a spray of aerosol aftershave and kill a snake. Seconds later, he uses the same cigar to burn the wrist of rogue CIA agent Rosie Carver. It’s a memorable sequence. And, thanks to the cigar’s trademark earthiness and wet wood aromas, also a memorable smoke.
Montecristo Especial No.1 Cigar
The Montecristo No.3 Cigar
Of course, there was a murmur of discontent from literary Bond fans. And, whether producers heard their qualms or simply didn’t want Bond’s cigars to become too cartoonish, by the time Moore returned in The Man With The Golden Gun, his cigars had shrunk. They still weren’t as small as the Montecristo Media Coronas the actor favoured in real life — but the more manageable No. 3 cigars made for realistic smoking on the big screen.
In the film, Bond can be seen lighting up and discarding a No.3 outside the infamous Bottoms Up Club in Hong Kong, moments before he meets Scaramanga’s henchman, Nick Nack. We also catch Bond enjoying a No.3 when he he deftly pickpockets a Lebanese belly dancer in Beirut, as well as when he and Lieutenant Hip break into Hai Fat’s Bangkok compound.
Montecristo No.3 Cigar
The Romeo y Julieta Churchill
In 1965’s Thunderball, Q offers Bond a Romeo y Julieta. There’s no cigar to be smoked, however — as the aluminium case is simply a disguise for an underwater breathing gadget. But while Connery may never have lit a Romeo y Julieta on screen, the brand still shares strong links with the series.
In the novel You Only Live Twice, M is found dining at Blade’s Club. And, although the spymaster is known for smoking a pipe, his dining companion, Sir James Molony, is sold on the idea of a Romeo y Julieta by the head waiter, Porterfield. “The best of the Jamaicans are quite up to the Havanas these days,” Porterfield says. “They’ve got the outer leaf just right at last.”
On screen, Bond is all set to enjoy a Romeo y Julieta Churchill in the pre-title sequence of The World Is Not Enough — at a bank in Bilbao. However, before he can light up, 007 has to make his escape with the fortune of British oil tycoon Sir Robert King. It’s only in Die Another Day when Bond eventually sparks up a Churchill alongside that mojito we mentioned above.
Romeo y Julieta Churchill
The No Time To Die Cigar
Which brings us to No Time To Die. Bond’s latest outing will be released in November, and sees many returns. Christoph Waltz will return as Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage Series III will return — for the first time since 1987’s The Living Daylights. And Cuba will be back on the jet-setter’s globe-trotting agenda. But one of the most exciting developments? Cigars look to be back.
After set photos emerged of Daniel Craig in Jamaica, toting a speargun and chomping on a stogie, it looks like we’re set to see a return of the rough, ready, cigar-enjoying Bond of old. We don’t know what brand it is just yet, but check back and we’ll let you know when we do…