Searching for 007 at Half Moon, Jamaica
By Alexander Britell
MONTEGO BAY – This time there is a cigar, and there is rum.
The soft burn of a Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill and some Blackwell, a Jamaican rum with a hint of vanilla.
“There are moments of great luxury in the life of a secret agent,” Ian Fleming wrote in his second James Bond novel, Live and Let Die.
The thing about luxury though, is that it often strikes twice. And in the very same place.
Live and Let Die was the first Bond novel Fleming set in part in his beloved Jamaica, involving a plot by a Caribbean-born kingpin working with that nefarious global syndicate called SMERSH.
When Live and Let Die made its way to the silver screen 19 years later, Jamaica became a fictional island called San Monique, teeming with voodoo, drug lords and tarot mystery.
But the room Bond stayed in was vey much real: in Cottage 10 at the Half Moon resort near Montego Bay (some of the San Monique resort scenes were filmed in Ocho Rios.)
While the original cottage has gone through its share of changes and renovations in the four decades since, this is James Bond’s cottage in Jamaica, just steps from the Beach at sandy Half Moon Bay.
It was here where the henchman called Whisper, posing as a hotel waiter, delivered a bottle of Bollinger.
Above: Whisper delivers the Bollinger
When Bond checked into Cottage 10, Room 168 in 1973, he ordered a bottle of Bollinger — with two glasses slightly chilled — and lit a cigar.
Moments later he had an uninvited guest — a poisonous snake sent into the bathroom.
With a quick move and some shaving cream he turned his cigar into a weapon, blazing the snake and surviving to soon meet Mrs Bond, the double agent Rosie Carver who had checked in as Bond’s wife.
Above: Roger Moore as James Bond on the breakfast veranda at Half Moon (Courtesy Sony)
It was all here, a room I remembered the first time I saw the film 20 years ago, the room where a tarot card appears on the breakfast veranda, warning Bond he may have a traitor in his midst.
“I’LL HAVE A LIVE AND LET DIE,” I tell Caswell, the barman at Half Moon’s Sea Grape Terrace. The drink was created two years ago to mark 40 years since the film’s release.
One part pimento liqueur
Two parts rum (the recipe suggests 1.5 — I take a small liberty)
Three parts mango juice
A splash of coffee liqueur
In a martini glass or a cocktail glass. I had the latter.
It’s s crisp cocktail, with the mango juice balancing the earthiness of the coffee.
It is not the Vesper, the cocktail that was reborn in Casino Royale. It is sweeter, it is heartier. It is Caribbean, fitting for perhaps the most Caribbean of all the Bond films.
Above: the main beach at Half Moon
The Caribbean is where Bond was born, and while 007 hasn’t returned to the region since Casino Royale in 2006, there are places like Half Moon where one can journey to revisit the steps of the Gentleman Spy.
This bar looks out on the ocean, the one on which many Bond movies end, usually with 007 joined by a Bond girl on a boat.
This hotel is fit for Bond, a timeless place with beautiful white cottages and a crescent-shaped golden beach and the air of another, more elegant era.
Above: the entrance to Half Moon
And somewhere in the fumes of a Romeo and Julieta, watching the Caribbean night, I find the moment of great luxury.
Happily, without the snake.