Shaken or stirred? It’s an age old question that shouldn’t even exist, but sadly does thanks to Sean Connery’s James Bond, who insisted on having his Martini shaken in 1964’s Goldfinger. Since that fateful moment, every incarnation of Bond has followed suit, including the most recent interpretation by Daniel Craig, who took the Martini mess up even further. In Casino Royale, Bond orders a Vodka Martini, and when the bartender asks “shaken or stirred?” he responds, “do I look like I give a damn?” He certainly should give a damn, because a Martini should never be shaken, here’s why:
It over dilutes the cocktail.
Shaking a cocktail in general is meant to dilute and cool your drink, but it’s generally too harsh of a method for a spirit-forward drink, especially one as delicate as the Martini. According to a piece by Geoff Kleinman published on Drink Spirits, “A shaken Martini gets diluted too fast and gets too much air mixed into it. The result is a slightly frothy and watered down drink.” To avoid a bland ‘tini, stir it briskly with a bar spoon, then strain it into a coupe.
It muddles up the flavors of gin.
Shaking is especially harmful if you prefer a Gin Martini. Gin’s flavor is separated into three parts: the top note, the middle note, and the base note, all of which work to complement each other to form the taste you’ve come to know and love. “When you agitate gin, you’re causing the top notes to dissipate,” Mark Vierthaler wrote on Tales of the Cocktail’s website. “Those bits of pine and botanicals that you look forward to start breaking down and become dull.”
It doesn’t chill the cocktail properly.
Martinis are meant to be cold—ice cold. But that doesn't mean ice should actually make an appearance in your cocktail. Shaking a Martini will leave ice chips behind, disrupting the cocktail’s silky smooth texture, and causing it to become even more overly diluted when the ice melts. Stirring your Martini will get your drink to a desirably cold temperature without leaving behind any unwanted surprises.
It ruins the drink’s delicate texture.
Martinis should have a silky viscosity, and shaking a Martini makes that impossible. “You want dilution in every cocktail,” mixologist Jeff Bell told GQ. “But in a Martini you want to chill it super cold and retain that oily, viscous quality that ice cold alcohol has.” Shaking your cocktail causes air bubbles to form in your drink, which disrupt a Martini’s mouthfeel. Stirring is a much more delicate way to aerate your drink.