To Be Like Bond, You've Gotta Be "Shaken, Not Stirred"

Updated: Aug 25, 2019

This article originally appeared on the now-defunct men's magazine website "The Magnifier", a division of VaynerMedia. Writing for this outlet entailed an edgy, conversational voice with the occasionally snarky tone.

"Shaken, not stirred."

The American Film Institute ranks this phrase #90 on its list of the best movie quotes in the last 100 years of film. Everyone knows James Bond's classic line—unless you've been living under a rock for the previous 60 years. But it's more than just a catchy line: it's also the only way to drink a martini, even if your name doesn't start with 00 and end in 7.

The perfect mix of sophisticated class and thrilling daredevil, the man with a license to kill doesn't historically seem to have a preference for vodka or gin martinis. In the space of Ian Fleming's books, he orders 19 vodka martinis and 16 gin martinis.

In 1953's Casino Royale Mr. Bond lists Gordon's gin as his preference to the bartender, but it took good old product placement (a very obvious bottle of Smirnoff) in 1962's Dr. No to specify a vodka. Smirnoff would go on to be an official partner of the films for nearly 50 years, but Absolut, Stolichnaya, Belvedere, and Finlandia also count themselves as featured brands.

Above all, Bond always specifies that he prefers a grain vodka that is Polish or Russian in origin. (In my own extensive "research" on the subject, Tito's Handmade Vodka is the clear and consistent winner for a killer martini.)

So, why 'shaken' and not 'stirred'?

Theories on the reasoning behind this specification abound. One proposes that shaking chills a drink faster than stirring, enabling the super spy to get his drink on sooner. Another chalks it up to Fleming's own personal preference.

A personal favorite is the idea that since shaking is a bit more of a violent process than stirring, it allows more of the ice to break down and thus dilute the strength of the drink. Arguably this would have been a rather intelligent choice for a man wielding a weapon on a secret mission. It is also a smart choice for you, if you want to stay classy around your particular Bond girl.

Some bartenders will kvetch about shaking any cocktail that contains clear liquids, as it introduces air bubbles into the mix and results in a cloudier appearance. What it also does is break up the texture of the liquor a bit and dissolve the vermouth more effectively, resulting in less of an "oily" feel on the tongue.

If you're concerned about feeling a bit silly when ordering, you can eschew the classic "shaken, not stirred" line and instruct "shaken very well, please." It's up to you if you prefer a lemon twist or olives, but if the latter, note that drinking lore suggests it's bad luck to have an even number.

I can already see the hipsters sneering at me over their home-brew-filled upcycled Mason jars, deriding the martini as out-of-touch and classless--so let me be clear.

I'm talking about classic martinis—vodka or gin, and vermouth, perhaps with a garnish. That's it.

Not that radioactive green Sour Apple Crantini nonsense, nor the dreaded cliche ~Cosmo~ (find me someone that actually enjoys a Cosmo and I will show you a liar), and certainly not whatever else manufacturers have crammed into vodka in a desperate attempt to convince idiot 16-year-olds that their particular brand of swill tastes like cotton candy. (Spoiler: it does not.)

I can personally assure you that nothing, NOTHING is more suavely impressive to a woman than a man in a well-tailored suit ordering a classic martini. Why? Well, probably precisely because of James Bond.

It's the drink of the world's most dangerous man and a surefire way to feel like a covert badass around town. Armed with this new knowledge, you have everything you need to sweep Holly Goodhead off her feet.

Cheers, lads.


Grace Everitt is a published writer & editor with nearly ten years of experience in both digital and print media. She is also the president of Grace Marketing Group, and spends her time bouncing between Florida and California.