The martini: shaken or stirred? It is one of those great questions of all time. It is an important question and the answer you give tells a lot about your priorities. Are you given to “living on the wild side”, breaking rules, just “being you”, and fighting against any conception of proper decorum – in short, a revolutionary? You will choose to shake your martini.
If, however, you stand for the importance of tradition, the veneration of the old and the antiquated, and the recognition of absolutes – if you revel in the existence of standards and unavoidable cause and effect, you will accept only a stirred martini.
Well, that may be going a bit too far – maybe you only heard James Bond require his martini “shaken, not stirred” and didn’t know any better.
But there was a reason Bond had to request a shaken martini. His character was written to go against established principles in more than one way and, in my opinion, his intentional disregard for the proper way of mixing a martini was part of that rebellion.
Here are the rules of cocktail mixing: if a cocktail is comprised entirely of spirits it is stirred, but if it contains fruit or vegetable juice as one of the major ingredients, it is shaken. Thus, you would stir a martini, manhattan, or a rusty nail, but you would shake a sidecar, whiskey sour, or a daiquiri. This, of course, does not apply to built drinks, such as the salty dog or the old fashioned, which are mixed directly in the serving glass.
There are two good reasons for this rule. First, if no juice is present in a cocktail, it is usually more or less clear and muddying that beautiful translucence with tiny ice shards and little air bubbles is not at all desirable, thus the gentler treatment of stirring. Second, it is very easy to slightly over-dilute a drink when shaking it. If the spirit content is already diluted by fruit juice a little extra water is not going to make a discernible difference. In a spirit-only cocktail, however, the smallest amount of extra water can usually be detected and is almost always undesirable.
So, if you would offer me a shaken martini and you were a friend or an acquaintance, I would happily accept the cocktail and would probably even enjoy drinking it, although I can not guarantee that I could refrain from mentally noting the subtle inferiority in flavor, texture, and the spirit of the drink.
If, on the other hand, you served me a shaken martini as a waiter or bar-tender at a restaurant or cocktail lounge, even though I had probably made sure to specify, “Stirred – not shaken!” when I ordered it, I would first suppress both a sudden disagreement with your shirt collar and the very great urge to trounce said collar with three or four ounces of icy martini. Immediately upon accomplishing this great feat of self-control, I would turn my attention to you and, calmly but very firmly, explain above mentioned rules of cocktail mixing and send the poor disheveled martini back to be replaced by a fresh, sparkling stirred one.
Rules, where they have a good reason for existing, must be obeyed.
A dry martini is a very simple cocktail. All you need is a good London dry gin, dry vermouth, and orange bitters.
Start with two ounces of gin.
The ratio of gin to vermouth is another of those oft-debated questions, but here there is not one right answer. If you are learning martinis, try different ratios until you find your favorite. My preferred ratio, 4:1, also happens to be a good place to start. In this case, that means one-half ounce of dry vermouth.
An interesting note on terminology. Early on in the lifetime of the martini, around 1900, many cocktails could be ordered “sweet” or “dry.” The original martini was actually a sweet martini, which meant it was made with sweet vermouth. Nowadays, calling a martini “dry” simply means that it contains a very small amount of vermouth.
Add a dash of orange bitters.
- 2 oz. London Dry Gin
- 1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth
- 1 Dash Orange Bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir well and serve. Garnish with green olive or a lemon twist.
Reminds Me of:
- William Powell & Myrna Loy
- The Roaring 20′s
- Dining at the Ritz
Goes Well With:
- A Tux
- A Nice Slow Dance
- A Good-Looking Partner – Preferably One Who is In Love with You