Admit it, we’ve all done it (or wanted to do it), haven’t we, boys?
For some reason (wedding, university ball, particularly posh birthday party, black-tie dinner), you’re in a tuxedo. You instantly feel a bit James Bond. So you go to the bar and order Bond’s classic drink.
‘Vodka martini, shaken not stirred’.
As the name suggests, a vodka martini is a variation of a classic martini with vodka instead of the traditional gin. It is made by combining vodka, dry vermouth and ice and chilling the ingredients (either by shaking or stirring) then straining them into a chilled cocktail glass and generally served without ice, but can be garnished with an olive, a strip of lemon peel, capers or a cocktail onion.
In the Bond novels, the phrase first appears in Diamonds Are Forever (1956) but is not spoken by Bond until Dr. No (1958), under the variation of ‘shaken but not stirred’. It has been counted that through the Bond novels and short stories, Bond imbibes nineteen vodka martinis and sixteen gin martinis- interestingly, his drink of choice (in print) is bourbon whiskey, with sake and champagne second and third.
In the Bond movies, Dr. No offers Bond ‘a medium dry martini, lemon peel. Shaken, not stirred’ but it isn’t until Goldfinger (1964) that Bond- played by Sean Connery- orders one himself. Thus a legend is born. George Lazenby’s and Roger Moore’s Bond do not order the drink for themselves, but receive them nonetheless; Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan both order the famous drink themselves. There are only a few occasions where Bond’s martini is other than shaken- in Casino Royale (2006), Bond doesn’t ‘give a damn’ whether it’s shaken or stirred as he’s just lost millions in a game of poker, and in You Only Live Twice (1967) when Bond is in
Japan, his contact offers him a martini which is ‘stirred,
not shaken’. Bond glosses over this, saying the drink is ‘perfect’. But what's
the difference between shaking a martini and stirring it? Henderson
Andrew Lycett, an Ian Fleming biographer, believed that Fleming liked his martinis shaken, not stirred because Fleming thought that stirring a drink diminished its flavour. But it could be that, bizarrely, a shaken martini could be healthier for you.
The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario in Canada conducted a study to determine if the preparation of a martini has an influence on their antioxidant capacity; the study found that the shaken gin martinis were able to break down hydrogen peroxide and leave only 0.072% of the peroxide behind, versus the stirred gin martini, which left behind 0.157% of the peroxide. Thus a shaken martini has more antioxidants than a stirred one.
Other reasons for shaking tend to include making the drink colder. Shaking increases convection, thus making the drink far colder than if it were to be stirred. Shaking is also said to dissolve the vermouth better making it less oily tasting. Shaking can also break down the oils in cheaper vodka and make the drink taste smoother; however, a gin martini should be stirred as shaking gin can bruise it and make it bitter.
It isn't certain whether we’ll see Daniel Craig ordering the famous drink in Skyfall as Heineken have struck a deal for a Bond campaign which will see Bond drinking beer in the film. For some, this may be an act of pure heresy. But Bond has been seen drinking other things throughout the movies- champagne, mojito, rum Collins and mint julep amongst others.
The next time you find yourself in a tux, order Bond’s signature drink. You may find the bartender slightly rolls their eyes or sighs, but ignore it and enjoy the sensation that- albeit fleetingly- you could be James Bond.