Was James Bond right all along? Time to put the “shaken, not stirred” debate to bed once and for all

World Best Bar

Nov 03, 2020


James bond martini drink
Yes, that’s right. It’s the return of the age-old Martini dilemma and a phrase particularly loved by adamant amateurs: “a…

Yes, that’s right. It’s the return of the age-old Martini dilemma and a phrase particularly loved by adamant amateurs: “a proper Martini is never shaken, always stirred”.

We’re tempted to stop the conversation right there, because honestly, we have no real desire to offend your cocktail-savvy friend or the bartender in your favorite watering hole… But it’s actually a bit more complicated than that: it really depends on what kind of Martini we’re talking about.

Stir your Dry Martinis with a spoon

First of all, it has to be said that Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond and thus the inventor of the legendary “shaken, not stirred” catchphrase, was familiar with the 1920s and ‘30s cocktail world. At the time, all – and we mean absolutely all – cocktails were shaken. So you see, we have to forgive him, it wasn’t his fault but simply a sign of the times. The problem is that when you shake a Martini, the liquid becomes cloudy. With colorless ingredients, this would be such a shame: a sparklingly clear Martini is so much more elegant. And you can only accomplish this by preparing it in a mixing glass. What’s more, a perfectly stirred cocktail will have a slightly higher temperature (though it still remains ice-cold) than a shaken cocktail, which means a more expressive palette of flavors. This is why it’s important that a classic Dry Martini, made with gin, is always stirred, not shaken.

Shake, shake, shake your vodka

But wait a minute! James Bond enjoyed a Vodka Martini even more than a Dry, gin-based Martini. Does this change anything? Theoretically, no. But practically speaking… How do you drink your vodka? The most common answer is ice-cold, with a bottle straight out of the freezer. Why? A classic vodka is not flavored by anything – it has a clean and pure ethanol taste, so the colder the better. A Vodka Martini should thus be served colder, and even a bit diluted. It should therefore be shaken, not stirred. Ok, very good, but what about a Vesper Martini? Bond – in other words, Fleming – invented this cocktail for Casino Royale. Instead of vermouth, he asks for Lillet, and for it to be mixed with both vodka and gin. Of course, he also orders it shaken, not stirred, and while some people might argue it dilutes the drink, we recommend going by the book on this one.

“Wannabe” Martinis

Last but not least, be aware that while a considerable number of cocktails include Martini in their name, and are often quite delicious, they are not authentic Martinis. The name comes from these drinks being served in the same iconic-shaped glass. Now, this article makes no mention of such cocktails, but since we’re feeling generous, we’ll take the opportunity to remind you of something: if the so-called “Martini” includes ingredients such as juice, fruit puree or sugar, it should always be shaken. It’s a simple matter of emulsion. Unlike Bond, we truly believe in “live and let live”, but certain rules should certainly never be broken.

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