Behind the Bar: Shaken or Stirred

In 1956 James Bond drank his first Martini “shaken and not stirred.” Fifty-four years later, purists would argue that 007 got his signature drink all wrong. (We can blame Gilberto Preti, who was James Bond author Ian Fleming’s favorite bartender and worked at the Dukes Hotel in London.) But more importantly, when do we shake and when do we stir?

In the post-Prohibition bar world, bartenders default to a simple axiom: stir when the drink is all spirits and shake when juices and other non-alcoholic ingredients are involved. Shaking adds air, sparkle and froth to a drink. Fruity or sweet cocktails come alive with effervescence when given a hard shake. The air bubbles spread the flavors over the tongue and render the sweet ingredients less cloying. On the other hand, the most-desired texture in a drink calling for just alcohol, like a Martini or Manhattan, is heavy and silky. Stirring achieves this as well as an icy chill.

As with any rule, there are plenty of exceptions, including the Stinger, which combines equal parts cognac and white crème de menthe and needs to be shaken very hard to make the drink less thick and sweet. But whether you’re a professional bartender or just throwing a cocktail party, there is only one way to make a drink—exactly how your guest prefers it. Enjoy these early 20th century Martini recipes shaken or stirred.

Marguerite

Marguerite

Contributed by: Dale DeGroff

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 oz Plymouth Gin
  • 1 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
  • 1 dash Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6
  • Garnish: Lemon peel and/or small Spanish olive without pimento
  • Glass: Cocktail

PREPARATION:

Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel and/or a small Spanish olive without pimento.

This Dry Martini recipe was served at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City by principal bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia.

“Nick & Nora” Dry Martini

Nick & Nora

Contributed by: Dale DeGroff

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 oz Beefeater Gin
  • .5 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
  • Garnish: Small Spanish olive without pimento
  • Glass: Cocktail

PREPARATION:

Add both the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a small Spanish olive without pimento.

Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff is the author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail. He is also a Liquor.com advisor.

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Comments

  1. I was taught to stir clear ingredients and shake cloudy ingredients. For instance apple cider, a juice, should be stirred. According to the rule in this article it should be shaken. I think I like my rule of thumb better.

  2. Even the British Medical Journal got in on this debate, saying a shaken martini may be a little healthier because of its increased antioxidant properties. ‘Course, if you have to worry about that you probably shouldn’t drink. I’m of the school that you do what you, and your guests, like best.

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