For all his style and swagger, James Bond and his order of a martini, shaken not stirred has been upsetting martini fans forever. So here are the reasons why you shouldn’t shake your martini.
I can only hope that Bond author Ian Fleming or director of the film franchise Cubby Broccoli struggled with making 007 deliver those immortal lines; putting stylistic nuance over one of the cardinal rules of bartending.
When it comes to cocktails, the rule of thumb is stir spirit-forward cocktails, shake everything else.
If it has fruit (especially citrus) in it, if it has cream in it, and egg white, shake it up. Those flavours and chemical compounds need mixing good! And the ice clattering against the inside of the metal or glass shaker does just that.
Stirred, not shaken thanks very much, Miss Moneypenny
It also aerates the liquid with tiny bubbles, which give a velvety texture—just what you want in a daiquiri or margarita.
But if you want to express the spirit’s flavours more—martinis, old fashioneds, negronis, manhattans—it’s got to be a stirring flask and a long spoon please.
1. Bruising the juniper
When it comes to gin martinis—and before you say it, I know Bond drinks vodka martinis—shaking rather than stirring is said to ‘bruise the juniper’. I’ve never really understood how that would work to be honest.
For starters, there’s no actual berry in the bottle to bruise, but what it really refers to is the deadening of the brightness of a gin martini when you shake it.
The roughness of a long shake brings out other flavours and impacts the texture. These other four points look closer at why and how.
2. Ice particles
When you shake a drink vigorously, you’re left with ice shards and particles unless you fine strain into your glass.
Even just aesthetically, these little bits of ice are not welcome in a martini. But they also water down the cocktail too much and can allow too much of the vermouth flavours to come through.
3. Micro bubbles
As you shake, you aerate. This is good for things like fruit-forward and creamy cocktails, but it can create a cloudiness in your martini that you don’t want.
When it comes to martinis, you don’t want a silky texture. Spirit-forward drinks should be upright, clear and smooth, but not velvety. The little bubbles from shaking we’ve talked about create exactly that texture.
5. Dilution - the most important point of all!
One of the most important ingredients in many cocktails is in fact water. When you shake or stir your cocktail over ice, you’re doing a lot more than just chilling it.
You’re actually adding a small amount of water which tones the cocktail, ‘opens’ the spirit and releases oils from botanicals.
With a martini, more than most, you need to control the amount of water carefully.
But when you shake your martini, you have almost no control over how much you’re diluting it; you only have a split second between not enough and too much.
And with the added hazard of ice particles in your glass, you’re making things very difficult.
So there are lots of reasons why James Bond and his creators got it wrong and have a lot to answer for. But now you know, it’s time to stir up a storm!