Bond-ing with Your Guests

Throw a spy-themed dinner party that’s suave enough for a secret agent.


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Everyone’s favorite (not to mention the sexiest) secret agent returns to the big screen on November 9, 2012, when Skyfall, the twenty-third film in the James Bond series, hits theaters. Capture the film’s glamour, mystery and romance with a dinner party celebrating that debonair man’s man who always manages to save the world and get the girl. We show you how to add touches of authenticity and glitz to your Bond-themed soirée—without performing a bank heist to pull it off.

Spy-ifying Your Soirée

Chic yet wallet-friendly methods abound when it comes to setting an espionage scene. Send spy-inspired invites labeled “Top Secret” to your guests. On the night of the bash, station a (willing) friend posing as a Russian bodyguard to do a weapons check as guests arrive; create mock C.I.A. nametags for place cards; and set up a roulette or blackjack table.

For décor and favors, find inspiration in the Bond films. “We’ve done live fish in bowls as centerpieces, and a voodoo theme, with skulls, candles and voodoo dolls,” says Alicia Rodrigues, marketing manager for The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C. The hotel’s restaurant Plume regularly holds wildly popular Bond-themed dinners. She recommends you ask your attendees to dress up as their favorite film character and bring memorabilia items of their own to display.

Cocktails: Shaken or Stirred?

A well-chilled martini is synonymous with the suave undercover agent. Have pitchers of several variants ready as guests arrive.

Shaken, Not Stirred Martini

Recipe courtesy the Draycott Hotel, London

The Draycott Hotel in London is offering guests complimentary Shaken, Not Stirred Martinis to commemorate the 50th anniversary of James Bond, who first appeared onscreen in 1962’s Dr. No. Vodka lovers should feel free to sub out the gin.

4½ ounces gin
¾ ounce Martini Bianco Vermouth
3 green olives on a toothpick, for garnish

Add the gin and vermouth to a cocktail shaker. Add cracked ice, and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the olives on a toothpick.

Vesper Cocktail

Recipe adapted from Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (Jonathan Cape, 1953)

In Casino Royale, the secret agent concocts a martini that has become known as the Vesper, named for Bond girl Vesper Lynd. This is the original recipe, just as Bond requested it. Its inclusion of vodka and gin gives it wider appeal, and the substitution of Lillet for Vermouth adds a light, aromatic touch.

3 ounces London Dry Gin
1 ounce vodka
½ ounce Lillet Blanc
Large, thin slice of lemon peel, for garnish

Add the gin, vodka and Lillet to a cocktail shaker. Add cracked ice, and stir until well chilled. Strain into a large chilled Champagne coupe, and garnish with a lemon peel.

Intrigue-ing Wines

“True Champagne is a must for any Bond party, and Ian Fleming adored vintage Champagne,” says Michael Scaffidi, sommelier at Plume For a nonvintage alternative that’s delicious and value-priced, try Delamotte Brut NV ($30), produced by the sister house of renowned Champagne brand Salon.

Bond also loved his Claret, especially the wines of the first-growth Château Mouton Rothschild. Scaffidi points out that while few Bordeaux wines come at a budget-friendly price point, Château Talbot’s second-label wine, 2008 Connétable de Talbot ($30), is a fine choice, wonderfully expressive of the St.-Julien terroir.

In Goldfinger, the film’s eponymous villain serves a 1953 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen. Check out Josef Leitz 2011 Dragonstone ($20), another mineral-driven Mosel Riesling with a touch of sweetness.

Clandestine Cuisine

Oeufs Brouillés with Osetra Caviar

Recipe courtesy Chris Jakubiec, executive chef at Plume at The Jefferson Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Jakubiec claims that eggs are a favorite dish of Bond’s—they popped up a few times in Thunderball (1965). The secret agent was also no stranger to the finer things in life, often indulging in such delicacies as caviar. For your budget, seek out salmon or trout caviar.

4 eggs
1 slice brioche bread, cut into sticks that are ½ inch by ½ inch by 3 inches
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup heavy cream
Black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
¼ cup water
1 ounce osetra caviar, or substitute salmon or trout caviar

Using an egg topper, carefully cut the tops from the eggs. Pour the eggs out of the shells, and refrigerate 3 of the egg yolks and whites until ready to use. Rinse the egg shells, making sure to remove the thin, clear membrane that coats the inside of the shell. Set aside and let dry.

In a pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the brioche sticks and cook on all sides until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, remove to a paper towel and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the salt with just enough water to make the salt stick together.

Prepare a double-boiler over medium-low heat. In a bowl large enough to fit over the double-boiler, whisk together the 3 egg yolks and egg whites and ½ cup of the cream, and season with salt and pepper. Place the bowl with the egg and cream mixture over the double boiler and begin stirring with a whisk, slowly cooking the mixture so it remains creamy and moist. Keep the eggs moving, and once they begin to coagulate, add the remaining cream and 1 tablespoon of butter, and cook for an additional 1–2 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the chopped chives, adjusting the seasoning if necessary.

Mound a small amount of the wet salt on a dish, and place each of the egg shells atop the salt, with the cut side facing up. Carefully spoon some of the egg mixture in the shells, insert one of the brioche sticks in the egg so the end is sticking out, and top each with a generous spoonful of caviar. Serves 4.

Prime Filet & Vegetable Brochettes with Sauce Béarnaise

Recipe courtesy Chris Jakubiec, executive chef at Plume at The Jefferson Hotel, Washington, D.C.

In Diamonds are Forever (1971), Bond successfully averts an attempt by villains Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd to impale him with a flaming skewer. As a playful homage to that scene, serve these brochettes—they’re something that guests will really be able to sink their teeth into. Marinated London broil or New York strip can be substituted for the pricier filet mignon.

1 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup shallots, sliced
5 sprigs tarragon
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons warm water
2 cups clarified butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic
½ cup olive oil
2 prime filet mignon steaks, 6-ounces each
8 white or red pearl onions, blanched
16 spears of asparagus, blanched and cut in half
8 grape or cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

To prepare the Béarnaise sauce
In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, shallots and tarragon. Bring to a boil and reduce by three-quarters. Strain the mixture and reserve. In a double boiler over just-simmering water, vigorously whisk the yolks, vinegar reduction, and water until it has doubled in volume and has a ribbon-like consistency. Slowly whisk in the butter, a little at a time to start. If necessary, add more warm water to adjust the consistency. Season with salt, pepper and fresh tarragon.

To prepare the brochettes
Place the garlic cloves and olive oil in a small pan, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then strain and set the infused oil aside.

Cut each filet in half horizontally into 8 small medallions that are 3 ounces each. Assemble the brochettes by first skewering a pearl onion, followed by the bottoms halves of 2 asparagus spears, one tomato, one of the filet medallions, and finally the 2 asparagus tops. Repeat the process again until each skewer has 2 medallions of beef, 2 pearl onions, 4 pieces of asparagus, and 2 tomatoes. Brush the brochettes with the garlic oil, season with salt, pepper and thyme leaves, and place on a hot grill.

Cook until the meat reaches the desired degree of doneness, brushing the brochettes again with the oil before turning over the skewers. Let rest 3 minutes, and serve with the Béarnaise sauce on the side. Serves 4.  

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