Shaken, Not Stirred 

“Vodka martini please. Shaken, not stirred”, A James Bond fan ordered a Vesper at FourSeason Hotel HK last night.  Die hard fans can be so cute.

Shakennot stirred“, a catchphrase of Ian Fleming’s James Bond.  I asked the bar man at FourSeason and he as well told me all their martini are in fact, shaken not stirred. But why Mr. Bond decides his (or let’s say Ian Fleming’s preference!) should be shaken while the traditional martini is always stirred?  I have done some reading, asked around and realized that the preparation of a martini has an influence on their antioxidant capacity, wow!   Biochemists, and martini connoisseurs have investigated the difference between a martini shaken and a martini stirred.   The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario in Canada had conducted a study and 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. The study was done at the time because moderate consumption of alcohol appears to reduce the risk of cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.   Didn’t expect it would be related to health but am sure that’s not the reason why Mr. Bond want his to be shaken.  

Lillet Blonde used to be Kina Lillet before Maison Lillet removed KINA from the brand name in 1970s

Let’s see what’s “the” Bond’s “dry martini” distinctive specifications : ” Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel.” He calls this a Vesper, after the beautiful double agent from the book (Eva Green in the film Casino Royale).

A traditional martini is made with gin, dry vermouth and either an olive or a lemon peel.  Nothing else.  (or A vodka martini substitutes vodka for the gin, but sometimes allows other ingredients).  Bond is probably the only person who takes both spirits.  And a proper martini should be stirred, not shaken.

In terms of taste, there are true differences between shaken and stirred :

  • a shaken martini is commonly believed to be colder than one stirred, although bartenders had tested it if they are shaken / stirred in the same container and had stirred well enough, they are equally cold
  • a shaken one may be more diluted (if they didn’t get filter those tiny broken off ice chips completely).  But Bond probably prefer it shaken more because he can have it quicker than weaker
  • shaking a martini dissolves air into the mix; this “bruising” of the gin which is again a myth makes a martini taste too “sharp” some argued
  • a shaken martini will dissolve the Lillet and vodka better (when it is produced from potato vodka can be a little oily in terms of mouth feel ), giving a less oily mouth feel to the drink
  • a shaken martini will be more cloudy than a stirred one which most connoisseurs may prefer the appearance in the glass to be clean and sharp and clear (it doesn’t effect the taste)

So, now, you may see the difference and which way you prefer?  the Bond’s way or the connoisseurs’ way?  Or perhaps a “reverse Vesper” if you are a little more experimental and would love more Vodka in your Martini?  I would suggest you to ask for a Belvedere as the Vodka to have!

Adding this vodka martini tasting note from yesterday which i found interesting showing portions and recipe on making a
Adding this vodka martini tasting note from yesterday which i found interesting showing portions and recipe on making a “reverse Vesper”, a “wet” and a “dry” martini

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