Why “stirred, not shaken”?

For this we have Ian Flemming to blame who decided to make his famous secret agent hero, James Bond, into a cocktail maverick. Why maverick? Because by insisting “shaken, not stirred” for his martini, Mr. Bond was breaking with cocktail S.O.P. (standard operating procedure). This in turn engendered an entire generation of “maverick” Bond-wannabes, demanding that the shit be shaken out of all their cocktails, whether merited or not. The results, for me as a Manhattan drinker, is that in any but the best cocktail establishments (read: most bars) I must specify that my drink be “stirred, not shaken” lest I receive a frothy diluted version of my beloved libation. I cannot tell you how often a) I get a dirty look for making the request – impugning the skills of whomever is serving me and b) the shaken anyway drink must be returned and replaced.

I also like the title because it works the second way, meaning I am stirred to blog and not shaken by the challenge.

5 Responses to “Why “stirred, not shaken”?”

  1. Abby Steinbock Says:

    Hi!
    I really enjoy your blog and want to keep you in the loop with news from our restaurants- some of the best cocktail spots in Boston. If you’re interested in receiving info, send your contact details to asteinbock@marlomc.com. Thanks!

  2. If you’re available, we would love to have you out to at 7 p.m. at the Terra Gallery on Sunday, Jan. 16 as a VIP guest for the night and to participate in an exclusive “pre-tasting” to sample some of the competition’s featured drinks, chat with the competing bartenders and meet our West Coast brand ambassador – Borys Saciuk. Then of course, we’d love to have you stick around to watch the local bartenders and mixologists showcase their skills and battle their peers for a chance to join the cocktail caravan bound for New Zealand. Let me know :) pmingue@golinharris.com

  3. Patrick

    I just tried sending you an email to the address you left but it appears to be undeliverable. Please contact me at the following address: michael [at] leftcoastlibations [dot] com. Thanks!

    Michael

  4. Janu Vanier Says:

    From my experience watery cocktails are the product of bad ice which is a distinction that I think should be made. If a bar has crappy ice then you can barely stir the drink let alone shake it without severely watering down the libation. I have not been able to find many cocktails that don’t taste better shaken considering you have clear and cold enough ice cubes to do it properly, including a Manhattan.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks,

    Janu

  5. Janu

    It’s certainly true that watery ice makes it hard to adequately chill a cocktail while also controlling dilution. The same is true if ice is very small (more surface area means faster melt times). However, cocktails made without juices or sweeteners are by long tradition stirred, not shaken, regardless of the quality of the ice. Shaking makes a cocktail cloudy and spirit-only cocktails should be bright and translucent, not murky, when served. It’s also easy to over dilute when shaking as the ice is broken into small pieces which in turn melt faster. Yes, i know many people make Manhattans and Martini’s this way, with chips of ice floating on top, but I would always send these back. I would say these are the equivalent of an omelet made in a microwave: edible, yes, but hardly the thing expected.

    Michael

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