Modern Culture12 Jul 2009 12:17 pm
Anyone who is familiar with the beloved James Bond book and movie franchise knows that the fictional British secret service agent takes his martinis “shaken, not stirred.” Bond’s idiosyncratic preference has long puzzled mixologists, scientists and laypeople alike, as conventional wisdom holds that a proper gin martini is in fact stirred, not shaken. As such, Bond fans, martini connoisseurs and even biochemists have investigated what factors may have motivated Bond’s iconoclastic preference.
Biochemists have cited three main differences between a stirred and shaken martini: 1) A shaken martini is usually colder than a stirred martini, since the ice has swirled around the drink more; 2) Shaking a martini dissolves air into the cocktail, thereby “bruising” the gin and sharpening the its taste; and 3) A shaken martini dissolves more of the vermouth, giving the cocktail a less oily mouth feel. Thus, one could conclude that Bond simply preferred his martinis ice cold, strong and light on the vermouth.
However, the most plausible theory has come from die hard Bond fans themselves, who have suggested that Bond actually drank vodka martinis. They cite a passage in the first Bond book, Casino Royale (1953), where he provides the bartender with a recipe for his favorite cocktail, dubbed “The Vesper.” This cocktail, named after the comely double agent in the book, contains the following ingredients:
3 measures of Gordon’s Gin
1 measure of vodka
1/2 measure Kina Lillet vermouth
Shake it very well until its ice cold; pour into a deep champagne glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon peel.
Old school cocktail enthusiasts maintain that a traditional martini must be made with gin, dry vermouth and either an olive or a lemon peel. If anything else is added to the concoction, it ceases to be a “real” martini. However, a vodka martini either substitutes vodka for the gin, or is added to the gin like “The Vesper.” Because cocktails with vodka are always served very cold, “The Vesper” may explain why Bond preferred his “martini” shaken instead of stirred.
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