James Bond has been ordering his vodka martinis "shaken, not stirred" for 50 years now. But some experts say 007's order may be ill-conceived and a bit cloudy -- literally.
"Traditional martinis have a higher mix of vermouth in them and should not be shaken, as it will make it cloudy," says Ted Mills, cocktail aficionado and writer of Drink of the Week at Santa Barbara NewsPress. Martini makers have evolved their recipe over time to include much less vermouth, essentially turning the drink into simply vodka or gin in a glass. "If it's just vodka or gin, shaking won't make any difference," Mills contends.
In the days of Hemingway, martinis were often made in a pitcher ("five-to-10 drinks worth!") and stirred, Mills adds. He offers this rule of thumb: "Like your drink really cold? Shake shake shake. Like it to look nice? Stir stir stir." (Though he admits his personal taste errs on the side of stirring -- when the cocktail calls for it.)
Of course, in Ian Fleming's novels, 007's drink of choice was not the martini but the vesper, named after Bond's girlfriend in "Casino Royale." Concocted by the author himself, the drink is made of vodka, gin, and kina lillet (a type of fortified wine) instead of dry vermouth. And in the movie version "Casino Royale," Bond does actually order a vesper -- inspiring those around him at the poker table to order the same.
For those of you who cried foul when you heard Daniel Craig would be taking a swig from a Heineken in the upcoming "Skyfall," Bond's vodka martinis in the first film were part of a Smirnoff product placement deal for "Dr. No."
Southern California mixologist Josh Curtis has a theory as to why Bond orders his cocktail the way he does: 007 has to stay sharp on the job. "Bond needs to stay crisp and not become intoxicated. When one shakes a martini; it breaks down the ice in the cocktail, thereby diluting the drink. The more one shakes the drink, the more dilution happens," he says.
And Mills? He simply doesn't want to question the super spy: "James Bond likes his drinks strong and cold. Do you really want to argue with him?"
Watch clips from "Skyfall":