Is there a difference between a shaken and stirred vodka martini? Maybe some scientific explanation? (while not overtly sci-fi, there are a lot of sci-fi elements in Bond movies)

It would also make some sense if the the olive was added before the shaken/stirring as really hard shaking could manage to squeeze out the essence/oils from the oil and mix it with the alcohol, but from what I have heard, you don't do that.

See this, as a reminder of the legacy

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    President Bartlet: Shaken, not stirred, will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so not to chip the ice. James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.
    – Shane
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 20:18
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    @Shane - Yes, but if you're a secret agent who needs his faculties to survive and possibly kill, the illusion of drinking a strong drink while really drinking a watered down one could be useful. Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 14:31
  • @PoloHoleSet That would actually make for a good answer.
    – Shane
    Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 16:31

3 Answers 3


There are several reasons why Bond would order his drink 'shaken, not stirred'.

Firstly, he might prefer a colder drink, as shaking a martini will certainly result in a colder beverage. However, this causes the drink to lose its clarity due to the tiny ice chips and is often frowned upon by 'connoisseurs' who claim this 'bruises' the gin.

Secondly, it is recorded that Ian Fleming was a fan of of shaken martinis - particularly ones made by Gilberto Preti, a bartender in Dukes Hotel, London.

If you are looking for a scientific reason, then it is claimed that a shaken martini results in a drink with marginally more antioxidants in it - which must make it a bit healthier :) There are a few more reasons cited in this interesting article from the Royal Society of Chemistry, including the breakdown of the oils found in cheaper vodkas from Bond's era.


A: Because the writers wanted to give Bond style.

You asked for the “science”, and the answers so far reflect that. To me this misses the point entirely. I’m interested in the artistic decisions, as they are more relevant to the movie series:

  1. Cocktails are all about taste and style, (not unlike print typeface.) Bond drinks the most debonair cocktail - a Martini. It’s the mixed drink equivalent of a black tuxedo or an Aston Martin DB5. (Albeit a martini is a distinctly American invention.)
  2. However, James prefers Vodka. This implies an affiliation and taste for things Russian – not insignificant at the height of the Cold War to have a British agent prefer Russian vodka to British gin. In the sixties that’s a big statement; and in the 60’s they didn’t have a vodka from every nation like it seems today.
  3. ‘Shaken not stirred’ underlines further Bond’s rapscallion nature. To my mind, this is way more significant artistically than any molecular scientific understanding of the differences.

If the gag was Bond wants a cold but unbruised drink, they might have just chilled the glasses and the vermouth better. Also, looking at the YouTube link in the OP, I was surprised to see that Bond makes an uncharacteristic mistake (read: the writers – twice!) A martini is a martini. A vodka martini is a vodka martini. You do not ask for, “a martini” and expect, a.) there to be vodka in it, and b.) a reputable bartender to ask you if you want vodka in it. The correct drink request is “vodka martini”, then qualified simply “shaken, [not stirred].”

And, no, a chocolate martini is not a martini – its’ a chocolate martini. A “martini” with zero vermouth is not a martini – it’s gin. (Hence all the whimsical jokes about minimal vermouth (by “just waving a bottle over it”) for a very dry martini – vs. just a “no vermouth please”.) It’s a kind of unwritten but very traditional and long standing Reinheitsgebot law for martinis. A martini is: gin, dry vermouth, an olive or lemon twist garnish. Full-stop. (There is nothing ‘rapscallion’ about not knowing how to order a drink correctly.)

Final thoughts:

  • I read somewhere the liquor used for Bond films was actually ginger ale for champagne, watered down coffee for whiskey, and pure water for Bond's trademarked vodka martini.
  • In You Only Live Twice, Mr. Henderson gets the line backwards but they keep it in the film. He says “Stirred not Shaken.” (Also, wearing his slippers on the tatami mats is lame. [Bond is in just socks.])
  • Not about drink, but this song is an all-time cine favorite (pretty great movie too!). But when I think of Bond movies I often pine on the opportunities where that 1971 Ennio Morricone song could have been used. (The song name is #21 - Tarantola Dal Ventre Nero The connection is that the original movie called Black Belly of the Tarantula has two Bond girls in it.)

These are just hard won thoughts. Nothing to back me up online that I know of. Necropost. Sorry.

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    To one of your final thoughts. The liquid used when filming drinking scenes is rarely real alchohol - for multiple reasons (Actors who do not drink, not wanting to get drunk when making several takes, cost etc). Cold tea is another one.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 15:26
  • Now there is a good list – movie scenes reported to use real alcohol! : )
    – ipso
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 15:28
  • @ipso If only list questions were on topic :P. On a related note, great answer +1
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 15:40
  • I think your second point is not that well thought out in reality, Smirnoff is a partner with the James Bond series from the beginning, and therefore the vodka replaced the gin in the classic martini.
    – Geerten
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 16:02
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    @Geerten - I think your comment is not well thought out. The original James Bond drink in the novel was a Vesper Martini – which included a recipe that explicitly included vodka. “Vodka Martini, Shaken not stirred” is a movie dealio about style! ;)
    – ipso
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 16:51

I remember watching a MythBusters episode testing if there is a perceptible difference, resulting in an affirmation that there is a difference. And the Wikipedia article on “Shaken, not stirred” contains a whole section explaining a lot, including a claim that Fleming liked his martinis shaken, not stirred because Fleming thought that stirring a drink diminished its flavour.

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