Martini Making - Shaken or Stirred?

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond drinking Martini

If you’ve seen a James Bond film, you’ve probably heard the iconic line, “Vodka martini, shaken not stirred.” James Bond can be seen as a controversial figure for many reasons, but it might surprise you to learn that his cocktail-making preference is one of them.

Why is this? Is James Bond – a suave, cool spy – asking for his martinis to be made incorrectly? Let’s take a look.

Cocktail Critters

Looking for cocktail accessories to wear on your next martini night? Cocktail Critters has an assortment of fun & fashionable enamel pins and cocktail inspired designs fit for any occasion.

James Bond and Martinis

Daniel Craig as James Bond drinking Martini

Bond’s preference for a shaken martini is probably one of his most recognizable character elements. But it’s not actually the traditional way of making a martini, which should be stirred, not shaken (more on this later).

So where did the line come from?

As with a lot of iconic cultural moments, it’s been mixed up over time. The first reference to this line is in the novel, Casino Royale. The Daniel Craig film is quite faithful to the book, which is the first in the series. In it, Bond invents a drink (later called the Vesper), which is a longer and much stronger martini.

It consists of gin, vodka, and Kina Lillet, which is a wine-based aperitif similar to vermouth. He asks for it to be shaken until very cold and later names it after the novel’s Bond girl, Vesper Lynd.

The line is given in the first film, Dr. No, but not by Bond. It’s mentioned by a waiter and the villain, both of whom make the drink according to Bond’s preferences (despite him not saying it on camera).

After that, “shaken not stirred” became a major part of the Bond franchise. There are various adaptations in the film series, but you’ll have to watch them through to spot them all!

Ian Fleming and the Martini

The author of the novels, Ian Fleming, uses the line in reference to martinis in several of the later books. His reason for this varies depending on who you ask. According to his biographer, Fleming himself preferred shaken martinis because he felt that stirring them changed the flavor too much. Other sources say that Fleming simply changed it around to make his character cool and mysterious.

The ”Right” Way to Make a Martini

A martini is an incredibly simple drink to make, although there are loads of variations in ingredients and methods. Traditional mixology claims you should stir the ingredients with plenty of ice before straining into a chilled glass.

This is to control ice dilution (it melts faster with vigorous shaking action) and aeration of the alcohol. Although shaking cools the drink faster, both of these factors affect the taste. It also makes the drink cloudy, but this isn’t a massive deal.

Vesper Martini Recipe

If this is inspiring you to try out the classic Vesper Martini at home, here's a quick and easy recipe for you to try it out for yourself!

  • 2oz (60ml) Gin
  • 2/3oz (20ml) Vodka
  • 1/2oz (15ml) Kina Lillet (now Lillet Blanc)
  • Lemon Twist

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass (or shaking tin). Stir or shake until the ice is diluted and the cocktail is chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass, garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy!

Final Thoughts on Shaking and Stirring

So, which is the right way to make a martini? Well, that’s simply a matter of preference – both at home and in the bar. If you want to look cool, have it shaken, not stirred.

However you choose to make it, be sure to rock one of Cocktail Critters' martini enamel pins. Each pin also comes with its own martini recipe for you to enjoy.

Assorted Martini Enamel Pins designed by Cocktail Critters