Bond's martinis

Betcha you didn’t subscribe to the Straight Dope mailing list. Betcha you thought there wasn’t any point, seeing how you check the site every day, anyway. Well, ha, ha, Mr. or Ms. Smartypants! If you had, you would have already read SDSTAFF Manny’s great column about James Bond’s drinking habits, instead of waiting for it to show up on the main page sometime tomorrow!
Anyway, now that that’s over with, I thought Manny left out one significant (though admittedly obvious) twist: there is a difference between the Bond on film and the Bond in the books. Did the film Bond ever specify a vodka martini? I don’t remember.

In any event, I (a mostly inexperienced martini drinker) had always been led to believe that shaking a martini or a vodka martini improved the flavor, but ruined the appearance. To order a martini shaken meant that you cared more about substance than style. Of course James Bond was all about style, but as even I know, the key to being stylish is to do so without seeming to try.

That was what made Connery’s Bond so impressive. He wasn’t actually very good looking (back then), but no one has ever looked more comfortable and at ease wearing a tuxedo or chatting up a beautiful super-villianess spy at a high stakes baccarat table than Sean Connery as James Bond. The same goes for ordering a martini. When the other "Bond"s tried to do it, they seemed pretentious and phony, like they had read about shaking martinis in some fancy martini book (or seen some one order one that way in a movie). When Connery did it, it seemed like that was how he knew he liked his martinis. Which was exactly the point, of course.

Just a note: Roger Moore never drank a martini or smoked a cigarette in any of his 6 or 7 Bond appearances.

And yes, I distinctly remember Connery asking for a “vodka martini, shaken, not stirred” at least once.

Proving me to be an inexperienced Bond watcher as well. :wink:

Still, it kind of proves my point about Connery being the real 007, anyway, doesn’t it.

The look of the martini certainly was not properly addressed in the debate over shaken and not stirred. A stirred martini remains crystal clear while a shaken one becomes cloudy with ice crystals and even small bits of ice floating on top. While this affect is quite appropriate for a daiquiri or a Manhattan, a martini, in its purity, should hve none of this.

One other thing, when you shake a drink, you get a lot more water into it from the melting ice, which will certainly cut the strong liquor flavor, if that’s what you’re looking for. But for goodness’ sake, make sure you have clean, fresh ice, or your drink will end up tasting like everything in your freezer.

I theorize Bond kept his edge by having larger (but weaker) shaken drinks while his adversaries kept pace with him with smaller (but stronger) stirred ones.


Are you saying it doesn’t matter if Manhattan becomes cloudy? :eek: (Since you are new, you may not realize that Manhattan is one of our esteemed moderators.)

Wouldn’t he better keep his edge by drinking the same size, but weaker, drinks? :slight_smile:

One of my most memorable movie scenes about martinis is in Auntie Mame (the one with Lillian Russell, not Lucille Ball). Little Patrick (about 12?) makes a martini for (the suitably shocked) Babcock and says that stirring bruises the gin. Great movie.

I knew that didn’t come across quite as clearly as I meant. I meant that his larger drink would take longer to consume, giving his adversaries more time to consume smaller, stronger drinks. Anyway, just a theory.

As for the Manhattan, I of course mean the drink, and a properly cloudy Manhattan with tiny bits of ice floating atop it is as close to a thing of beauty as I know.


Although in “Live and Let Die” he did smoke really awful-looking cigars - long and narrow. You may recall the scene on whatever the hell island it was where a snake is introduced into the bathroom whilst Bond is bathing/shaving. Noticing said snake in his handy-dandy mirror, Bond sprays cologne (with aerosol propulsion, it being 1973 and all) at the snake, igniting the stream with the tip of his cigar.

It happened more often than that, IIRC. Perhaps the second-best line in all of Bond-dom (the first, of course, being Goldfinger’s reply to Bond’s question, “Well, Goldfinger, do you expect me to talk?”) is his line in either “Thunderball” or “Never Say Never Again” (same movie, really), when he is soaked by a passing water-skier, who says, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve gotten you all wet.” To which Bond replies, “Well, at least my martini’s still dry.”

[[a properly cloudy Manhattan with tiny bits of ice floating atop it is as close to a thing of beauty as I know.]]

Just wondering if this is a cry for help.

Preface: I prefer my martinis at about 8 or 10:1 ratio.

I think that a difference between shaken and stirred can be attributed to the “muddling” effect that a stirred drink has, as opposed to shaken. That is, in a non-shaken martini, I believe you can taste the variations in mixture of gin and vermouth between swallows, and even in a single mouthful as you roll it around in your mouth. This effect is destroyed by shaking. I won’t advocate which is “better”, as I have had preference for either method at different times. Currently, I prefer the extra chill from a well shaken drink.

I suppose if you like next-to-zero vermouth in your martini, you’d never notice this difference.

And, I have never considered shaking a manhattan (-off to experiment).

I’m sure he’ll be shaken to hear about that. Whether he is stirred to do anything is another matter.

Greetings, everyone! (my first post)

I just had to comment on the little addendum at the end of the Bond Martini report. The article from the British Medical Journal concerning the health-related comparison of shaken and stirred martinis was a goof. It’s their version of an April Fool’s article (which I believe they do in December). They also did a bogus article on the diminished lifespan of jazz sax players compared to other musicians. Many journalists ran with that one as if it were a real medical story, much to the embarrassment of some. I thought the SD Board would have heard about this already!

  • Mike N.

Check this article:

With my bartending years far behind me, much has been forgotten(come to think of it, some was the very next day!*), but I do recall that there are three ways to make a dry shaken martini, and this is perhaps what Flemming/Bond was addressing.

Whether shaken or stirred, there are three ways to make a dry martini, call them what you will, dry medium dry, very dry, dry medium and wet whatever.

The technique is as follows:

Ultimately Dry:
Take your mixer glass, add a dash of vermouth, swish it about and dispose of it, then toss in your ice, pour in the vodka or gin(depending), shake over ice, strain into chilled martini glass and add presentation garnish. (Whew! I’m geting thirsty here.)

Middle Range Dry:
Same as Ulimately dry, but the ice goes in before the vermouth such that the essence of vermouth clings to the ice itself in addition to the glass and is by association more detectable to the taste buds.

Plain Old Dry
Same as Ulimately dry, but the vermouth goes into the actual chilled martini glass before being disposed of, so now, the essence of vermouth clings to the sides of the actual glass from which the drink is being consumed, and is therfore more evident.

The way I see it, if any visible, measurable amount of vermouth is sticking around to be consumed alongside the vodka or the gin, you’ve tread into the realm of “wet”(and a less tasty martini).

If I had to vote, I’d take an Ultimately Dry vodka martini.

*add sharp wit to the list of forgotten bartending skills

You know, a martini without vermouth is just cold gin. I like a fair amount of vermouth personally (1/4 oz to 1 1/2 oz gin), added right into the mix with the rest. I think a lot of people have been afraid to order some vermouth because of the cult of dryness that perists, and a lot of thoughtless bartenders don’t add vermouth for the same reason (much the same way they do not add bitters to a Manhattan, thinking them unnecessary). If you haven’t actually tried a martini with vermouth cause you think it’s somehow moraly wrong, give it a go.

I always imagined medium referred to size of the drink. I have often heard a British person order (in movies and in actual life) a “large” this or that in a bar, which was a bigger version of what you’d normally get. Might be like asking for a double. Having never actually heard anyone order a “medium” drink, I must say this is only speculation.


The reason Bond’s are shaken has nothing to do with taste.

He is a man of action.

He is not bound by rules. “Bruising the Gin”-type talk is for the effete clubhouse set, not men who live with danger.

I’d have a lot more to say about this if I hadn’t apparently gotten rid of my “Bartending for Dummies” after I quit tending bar. Dammit.

According to “The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia”, by Steven Jay Rubin:

Bond specifically asks for a vodka martini on Maximillian Largo’s yacht in “Never say Never Again”. I’ll admit, I can’t offhand think of another specific vodka martini reference. Other notable moments:

-the mistake from “You Only Live Twice”, in which Henderson (Charles Gray) offers a martini to Bond (Connery), announcing it is “Stirred, not shaken.” Bond accepts unhesitantly.

-when Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell, later of Law & Order fame) orders a martini for Bond (Timothy Dalton) in “License to Kill”, she gestures the “shaken” part in a semi-obscene manner.

As for Cantrip’s mention of the best dialogue, I’ll agree that “No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die!” is the best, but my vote for second is “That’s a Smith and Wesson, and you’ve had your six.” spoken by Connery just before shooting Professor Dent in cold blood (Dr. No).

Another mild piece of trivia is that two James Bond villians were portrayed by actors who had also appeared as Germans in the film version of “The Longest Day.” They were Gert Frobe (Goldfinger) and Curt Jurgens (Stromburg, of “The Spy Who Loved Me”).

One day, I’ll go through my collection of James Bond novels to find the first Fleming reference to “shaken, not stirred”.

Bryan Ekers

Last Saturday I went to my company party, and they had a few bartenders. I ordered a martini from one of them (shaken by default) and it seemed pretty damn strong, though good. I went back for another and watched him, and he didn’t put a drop of vermouth in it! He just filled the cannister with ice and gin, shook it, and poured it into the glass. I asked him about that, and he said he only put in vermouth if you asked for it! It was quite a good deal, I was getting about 4-6 ounces of pure gin for the cost of a shot.

An earlier thread on martinis (long predating the column):

How is this a good deal? The point of drinking should not be getting as many ounces of alcohol into you as possible in the shortest time and for cheapest cost. Drinking a martini (or any other proper cocktail) is a total aesthetic experience that starts with a good bartender who makes a proper drink. It’s not just the psychopharmaceutical effect of the alcohol, but also the beauty of the drink, the pleasure of the taste, and the human interaction between drinker and bartender and between drinker and other drinkers. A good cocktail is a ticket to a better world, not simple drunken oblivion.

If you are getting drunk rather than drinking, you might as well stick to Popov, or some similarly cheap alcohol.


No no! Popov comes after you are drunk…or at least very well buzzed.

Similarly, Captain Morgans comes after Stroh, and Bacardi comes after the Captain, Myers after Bacardi and after that, you are on your own 'cuz I won’t touch it!