Shaken or stirred?

Shaking versus stirred is one of the great debates surrounding the preparation of a Martini.

Martini aficionados have weighed in on both sides of this debate throughout the history of the drink. Author W. Somerset Maugham stated “Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other.” Ian Flemming, speaking through James Bond, required that a Martini be “Shaken, not stirred.” Why not stirred? “It bruises the gin.”

To “bruise” a wine or spirit means to take some action that changes its taste. Agitating and aerating a gin or vodka martini changes its taste, causing it to taste “sharper”. It imparts a certain bite or zing. Given this, and given his dislike of a bruised spirit, Bond should insist that his drink be “Stirred, not shaken,” since shaking “bruises” the gin more than stirring does.

Here are some facts to consider:

  • Shaking cools a drink more quickly.
  • Shaking is more likely to chip small shards off the ice, some of which will make their way into the drink, no matter how carefully one strains and pours.
  • Shaking a drink dilutes it more than stirring does.
  • Very rarely, shaking can cause  the drink to have a cloudy appearance because of bubbles that are created.

So, shaken Martinis and stirred Martinis are different. They also have equal qualities in many ways. Neither can firmly state to be “better.” You, dear Martini drinker. will have to decide for yourself whether one method is more preferred over the other.


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