This is Why James Bond Was Wrong About Martinis

Here's why you should never copy James Bond's signature catchphrase, "shaken, not stirred."

Daniel Craig Skyfall - 2012Photo: Danjaq/EON Productions/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock / Danjaq / EON Productions / Kobal / REX

Knee-deep in global intrigue, James Bond manages to keep his cool. His self-assurance is legendary, and when he orders his favorite drink the words spill out suave and smooth as silk: “Just a drink. A martini, shaken, not stirred.” His drink order is so famous it became one of his primary catchphrases. By the 1970s it was impossible to imagine a Bond film without the line appearing at least once.

Want to learn how to make the perfect martini? We have the perfect drink recipe for you.

What Does Shaking a Martini Actually Do?

“Shaking” a drink is a technique bartenders use to quickly cool a beverage. Ice cubes, vodka (or gin) and dry vermouth go into a cocktail shaker and with a few brisk shakes, the frosty-cool drink is strained into your martini glass. The issue? Shaking dilutes the drink more than its stirred counterpart.

This may sound silly, but hear me out: A single ice cube has less total surface area than the same volume of ice crushed into little shards. In short, more surface area = faster melting. When a martini is shaken, all the movement causes the ice to split into smaller pieces that melt more easily. This means more water content in the martini, which in turn affects taste.

Dilution doesn’t make much difference in dessert drinks like this Chocolate Cherry Martini. Thanks to special recipes, extra water will go unnoticed when supplemented by other bold flavors.

There’s another element to the martini: its base alcohol. The classic martini uses gin, though over the years vodka-based martinis have gained in popularity. Gin offers a wider palate of flavor to a drink than vodka, and shaking does more than just dilute the drink—it introduces foam. We’re sure Mr. Bond wouldn’t have wanted a sudsy cocktail to go along with his espionage.

Finally, there is presentation. A clean-looking martini arriving at a restaurant’s table is like a new jar of peanut butter without the protective film—everything looks perfect. Shaking a martini “bruises” the vermouth by emulsifying it, the end result of which is a cloudy liquid.

So Why Would Bond Order Shaken Martinis?

As a worldly spy wielding an edge of sophisticated etiquette as sharp as tempered steel, James Bond may have known the diluting effect shaking would have on his martinis. It’s possible that a man regularly involved in epic, life-threatening gunfights, relying on his wits to escape enemy traps, had his martinis shaken to dilute the final alcohol content. This would, in turn, allow him to drink more in the long run.

Our recommendation? If you’re preparing for a fancy dinner party and want to craft the best martini, stir, don’t shake. Don’t worry—you can still practice your best imitation of Sean Connery while sipping on your perfectly crafted cocktail.

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