‘Shaken, Not Stirred’: Why James Bond Is Wrong About How He Drinks a Martini
When the topic of martinis enters the conversation, we can’t help but recall these iconic words: “Shaken, not stirred.” Uttered by the fictional character James Bond (the charismatic secret agent with a penchant for danger and a taste for luxury) while ordering a martini, this phrase gives explicit instructions for shaking a cocktail’s ingredients instead of giving them a nice gentle stir.
And if you ask us, Bond drinks his martinis wrong.
What Is a Martini?
To better understand why Bond needs a little help ordering his drinks, let’s take a look at the martini’s origins.
A martini is a classic cocktail made from gin, vermouth and, depending on who you ask, orange bitters. The recipe is believed to have originated in the United States around the late 19th century and, although its exact precursor is unclear, it is generally accepted that the Martini & Rossi vermouth company inspired its name. Other martini origin stories suggest it is an evolution of the Martinez, a cocktail traditionally made with Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and bitters.
Read more: What Is Old Tom Gin? The Spirited Bridge Between the Original Gin and London Dry
The original martini recipe, which was first published in an 1888 bartending manual named “Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual,” called for equal parts gin and vermouth along with sweetener, bitters and Curaçao. Over time, the ratios of gin to vermouth changed and garnishes like olives or lemon twists started appearing on the top of cocktails. And now, the original addition of bitters is almost completely forgotten.
Today, the martini is a well-known cocktail with innumerable varieties, yet much of its appeal still stems from its basic and elegant beginnings.
Here’s Why James Bond Is Wrong
In both the “James Bond” novels and film adaptations, the titular character repeatedly orders a vodka martini “shaken, not stirred.” Most notably, Sean Connery’s Bond from “Goldfinger” orders his drink this way while on board Goldfinger’s private jet.
While certainly a uniquely personal choice, 007 gets it all wrong right away by preferring flavorless vodka over complex, botanical-rich gin. But hey, that’s just our opinion. If vodka is your go-to martini ingredient, all we can really do is tell you it’s time to expand your palate.
Now the whole “shaken, not stirred” thing is where Bond really has some explaining to do.
According to experienced bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts alike, shaking a martini causes the ingredients to become over-diluted and cloudy due to the aeration and agitation caused by the shaking process. This means a shaken martini is less flavorful, taking away from the fact that a cocktail is usually all about, you know, enjoying a spirit.
Shaking also alters the texture and mouthfeel of the cocktail, something that such a simple mix of ingredients heavily relies on in terms of the drinking experience.
For a classic martini, it is best to stir the ingredients together gently with ice to achieve a smooth and attractive crystal-clear drink. Additionally, whichever glass you enjoy the cocktail in (Bond sometimes drinks his in a rocks glass), make sure it is ice cold, as temperature plays a huge role in maintaining texture and enhancing flavor.
Sorry Bond, we just don’t approve of the way you like to drink a martini.
Gin, 007 and The Vesper Cocktail
A Bond we can really see ourselves hanging out with is the Bond of later films played by Daniel Craig. This secret agent knows how to order a gin drink.
“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka and half a measure of Kina Lillet,” Bond says in “Casino Royale.” “Shake it over ice and then add a thin slice of lemon.”
While indeed shaken, this is a different cocktail altogether — one with a lot of booze that benefits from a little extra H2O. The cocktail Bond spontaneously invents is eventually named after his stunning love interest, Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green.
An easy-sipping drink, the Vesper can be readily recreated at home by following Bond’s exact instructions, you’ll just have to make sure you have a bottle of Kina Lillet, also called Lillet Blanc, at the ready.
But if a martini is truly your thing (it’s certainly our thing), consider ordering it with gin if you haven’t yet — and for the love of juniper make sure it’s stirred.
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