Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics

Shaken or Stirred?

“Vodka Martini, Shaken not Stirred”

That classic line everyone knows. However, not everyone knows that James Bond is partially responsible for a huge misconception in classic cocktail making. Believe it or not, ideally not all drinks should be shaken and not all drinks should be stirred. It really depends on what ingredients go into the drink.

James Bond can’t be blamed for everything. Prohibition also played a key role by changing peoples mentalities about drinking due to the change from high quality legal cocktails to bootlegged spirits made tolerable by cutting them with juices and sodas.

So how big is this misconception? Well in a recent mixology survey by Zagat, a whopping 70% of respondents said they preferred their drinks shaken, not stirred (source: Zagat Mixology Survey 2012). Given that Martinis and Manhattans are some of the most popular drinks out there, it’s likely that a large proportion of people are drinking these classics in a way that less optimally showcases the flavors these drinks have to offer.

As a disclaimer/qualifier, when it comes down to it, everything in crafting cocktails is about enjoying yourself and what you like. That being said, I would venture to guess that based on personal experiences, most folks are unlikely to have had a Martini, or many other drinks stirred and thus wouldn’t know if they prefer a drink prepared in this fashion.

Beyond being “hip” to have a drink “shaken, not stirred,” the results also likely reflects on the different reasons that people drink. Some people drink mainly for the effects of alcohol, opting for the most tolerable, least expensive option. Others drink for the taste and history of a good cocktail or liquor. Effect is secondary. As in most things, this is not black and white, but more of a spectrum with most falling somewhere in the middle with variations to either end based on situation and mood. Neither is right or wrong, but when drinking mainly for effect or for those who have never had a stirred drink, shaking versus stirring is likely a non consideration.

So why would you stir some drinks like a Martini but shake others, besides going beyond the whole personal preference thing? Shaking versus stirring is a somewhat different debate. Shaking is not Bud light and stirring is not Miller light. In fact, there is actually some science behind these two techniques, which can be applied and enjoyed in the right situations.

As a general rule, if there is juice, milk or egg in the drink, then it should be shaken. If not then stirring is the way to go. 

For more information and instructions on shaking and stirring, check out:


Experiment: Grab a friend, significant other, coworker, etc and try making two of a drink that is typically stirred such as a Martini or Manhattan and then stirring one and shaking the other. Taste them both and see how the different methods change the flavor and texture of the drink. While I advocate sticking to the book as far as this goes and stirring or shaking the drink based on contents, decide what you prefer or mix it up as you see fit. After all in the end this is your cocktail.

Warning: Before trying this experimentif you are a fan of classic cocktails  such as the Martini and Manhattan among others, but have never had a stirred drink, you may spoil yourself on drinking these out at most establishments. Once many people switch to stirring the appropriate cocktails, the shaken versions of these drinks will likely taste watery and bland in comparison. The Straight Up takes no responsibility for ruining your ability to enjoy drinks out as a result of this article.

4 Responses to “Shaken or Stirred?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: