Shaken, Not Stirred

shaken not stirred

Shaken, not stirred‘ is a catchphrase of Ian Fleming’s fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond, and his preference for how he wished his martini prepared. The phrase first appears in the novel ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (1956), though Bond does not actually say the line until ‘Dr. No’ (1958) but says it ‘shaken and not stirred’ instead of ‘shaken, not stirred.’ It was first uttered in the films by Sean Connery in Goldfinger in 1964 (though the villain Dr. Julius No offers this drink and utters those words in the first film, Dr. No, in 1962).

It was used in numerous Bond films thereafter with the notable exceptions of ‘You Only Live Twice,’ in which the drink is offered stirred, not shaken (Bond, ever the gentleman, ignores his host’s gaffe, telling him the drink is perfect), and ‘Casino Royale,’ in which Bond, after losing millions of dollars in a game of poker, is asked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred, and snaps, ‘Do I look like I give a damn?’

This phrase has become a recognizable catchphrase in western popular culture and has appeared in many films, television programs, and video games for its cliché value. In Tom Clancy’s novel ‘Without Remorse,’ when ex-Navy Seal John Clark is asked his opinion of CIA operatives he worked with in the Vietnam War, he replies, ‘A couple were all right but most of them spent their time upstairs mixing martinis, shaken, not stirred.’ Roger Moore used the phrase in one episode of ‘The Saint,’ eight years before he played James Bond himself. Ironically, while playing Bond, Moore never ordered a martini, although he received one in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me,’ ‘Moonraker,’ and ‘Octopussy.’

Bond first ordered a drink to be shaken in Fleming’s novel ‘Casino Royale’ (1953) when he requested a drink of his own invention which would later be referred to as a ‘Vesper,’ named after the Bond girl, Vesper Lynd. After meeting his CIA contact Felix Leiter for the first time, Bond orders the drink from a barman while at the casino. ”A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet.’ / ‘Oui, monsieur.’ / ‘Just a moment. 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. Got it?’ / ‘Certainly monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleased with the idea. /’Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,’ said Leiter. / Bond laughed. ‘When I’m…er…concentrating,’ he explained, ‘I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold, and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I think of a good name.”

A Vesper differs from Bond’s usual cocktail of choice, the martini, in that it uses both gin and vodka, Kina Lillet instead of vermouth, and a lemon peel instead of an olive. In the same scene Bond gives more details about the Vesper, telling the same barman that vodka made from grain instead of potatoes makes the drink even better. Kina Lillet is no longer available, but can be approximated by using the sweeter Lillet Blanc along with a dash of Angostura Bitters. Russian and Polish vodkas were also always preferred by Bond if they were in stock. Although there is a lot of discussion on the Vesper, it is only ordered once throughout Fleming’s novels and by later books Bond is ordering regular vodka martinis, though he also drinks regular gin martinis. In total, Bond orders 19 vodka martinis and 16 gin martinis throughout Fleming’s novels and short stories.

Scientists, specifically 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 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. The study was done at the time because moderate consumption of alcohol appears to reduce the risk of cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

Andrew Lycett, an Ian Fleming biographer, believed that Fleming liked his martinis shaken, not stirred because Fleming thought that stirring a drink diminished its flavor. Lycett also noted that Fleming preferred gin and vermouth for his martini. It has also been said that Fleming was a fan of martinis shaken by Hans Schröder, a German bartender. A part of Ian Fleming’s James Bond character was based on people in his surroundings. One such influence was his friend Bernhard von Lippe-Biesterfeld, who drank his vodka martini as Bond did, always shaken, not stirred.

Many bartenders insist that any cocktail that involves nothing but transparent ingredients – such as martinis, manhattans, and negronis – must be stirred in order to maintain clarity and texture. The former is an aesthetic concern, the latter a matter of culinary taste. Shaking a drink is quite violent, and necessarily introduces air bubbles into the mix. This results in a cloudy appearance and a somewhat different texture on the tongue when compared to a stirred drink. However, when any of the ingredients are opaque (such as citrus juices, dairy, or eggs), aesthetically-pleasing clarity and texture are not as much of an issue. Furthermore, studies have shown that, while techniques and type of ice used to play a role in the final effect of chilling and diluting a drink, both shaking and stirring result in chilling the drink with equal effectiveness; stirring merely takes longer. In essence, then, James Bond doesn’t seem to care that his martini will be ugly upon presentation, though it will reach him slightly faster because shaking chills a drink faster.

Some connoisseurs believe that shaking gin is a faux pas, supposedly because the shaking ‘bruises’ the gin (a term referring to a slight bitter taste that can allegedly occur when gin is shaken). In Fleming’s novel ‘Casino Royale,’ it is stated that Bond ‘watched as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker,’ suggesting that Bond was requesting it shaken because of the vodka it contained. Prior to the 1960s, vodka was, for the most part, refined from potatoes (usually cheaper brands). This element made the vodka oily. To disperse the oil, Bond ordered his martinis shaken; thus, in the same scene where he orders the martini, he tells the barman about how vodka made from grain rather than potatoes makes his drink even better. Shaking is also said to dissolve the vermouth better making it less oily tasting.

While properly called a Bradford, shaken martinis also appear cloudier than when stirred. This is caused by the small fragments of ice present in a shaken martini. This also brings into question the movie versions which are never cloudy. In ‘Stirred,’ an episode of ‘The West Wing,’ President Josiah Bartlet disagrees with Bond in a conversation with Charlie Young: ”Can I tell you what’s messed up about James Bond?’ / ‘Nothing.’ / ‘Shaken, not stirred, will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so not to chip the ice. James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.”

Bond’s drinking habits mirror those of his creator, Ian Fleming. Fleming as well as Bond throughout the novels had a preference for bourbon. Fleming himself actually had a fondness for gin, drinking as much as a bottle a day; however, he was converted to bourbon at the behest of his doctor who informed him of his failing health.

Otherwise, in the films James Bond normally has a fondness for vodka that is accompanied by product placement for a brand. For instance, Smirnoff was clearly shown in 1997’s ‘Tomorrow Never Dies,’ in which Bond sits drinking a bottle while in his hotel room in Hamburg. Other brands featured in the films have included Absolut vodka, Stolichnaya and Finlandia. In the film ‘GoldenEye,’ Bond suggests cognac when offered a drink by M, who gives him bourbon instead, as it is her preference. In ‘Goldfinger,’ Bond drinks a mint julep at Auric Goldfinger’s Kentucky stud farm; in ‘Thunderball,’ Largo gives Bond a Rum Collins. Bond is also seen in ‘Quantum of Solace’ drinking bottled beer when meeting with Felix Leiter in a Bolivian bar. In ‘Die Another Day,’ Bond drinks a mojito. In ‘Casino Royale,’ Bond orders a Mount Gay rum with soda. In ‘Skyfall,’ the vilain Raoul Silva says he believes 50 years old Macallan Single Malt to be one of Bond’s favorites. In the novel ‘Moonraker,’ it is noted in the card club Blades, Bond adds a single pinch of black pepper to his glass of vodka, much to M’s consternation; he claims it sinks all the poisons to the bottom.

In several of the Bond films, he is known to prefer Bollinger and Dom Perignon champagne. Never primarily a red wine drinker, Bond tended to favor Château Mouton Rothschild; a 1947 vintage with ‘Goldfinger,’ and half a bottle ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,’ a 1934 ordered by M in ‘Moonraker,’ and a ’55 in ‘Diamonds are Forever’—where Bond unveiled the assassin Wint posing as a waiter because the latter didn’t know that Mouton-Rothschild is a claret. In the Jeffery Deaver novel ‘Carte Blanche,’ Bond expresses a knowledge and appreciation of South African wine. In ‘You Only Live Twice,’ Bond opts for sake over his usual martini, indicating that he especially likes it when it’s served at the correct temperature of 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit (37° Celsius, normal body temperature). Tiger, his host, is impressed and tells Bond he is exceptionally cultured—for a European.

Outside of alcoholic beverages, Bond is a coffee drinker and eschews tea with a passion, believing it to have been a factor in the fall of the British Empire and referring to it as ‘a cup of mud’ (in Fleming’s ‘Goldfinger’). In the novel ‘Live and Let Die,’ he expresses his fondness for Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee – while in the film adaptation he is shown to have an elaborate barista-style coffee machine in the kitchen of his flat. Also on screen he also orders coffee ‘very black’ from room service in ‘From Russia with Love’ and accepts a cup, refusing cream or sugar, from Franz Sanchez in ‘Licence to Kill’ – whereas in ‘Moonraker’ he refuses a cup of tea offered by Hugo Drax. In ‘The Living Daylights,’ 007 tastes a cup of café coffee he is served in the Prater Amusement Park, Vienna, making a face when it is not up to his standards.


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