WootBot


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It's May, and that means only one thing to all men and women of good will: National Beverage Day on the sixth of this month! We all love a refreshing beverage, but how much do we really know about them? If you're thirsty for knowledge, take a deep, satisfying swig of Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings, who will be debunking drink-related disinformation all month. As Alexander Pope once said, "A little learning is a dangerous thing, / Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring"!

The Debunker: Is the Ideal Martini "Shaken, Not Stirred"?

Ian Fleming's super-spy James Bond is a man of elegant tastes. Fleming's elaborately detailed prose made sure readers knew that Bond shared his preference for fast Bentleys, tailored serge suits, caviar with plenty of toast, and custom-blended Morlands cigarettes. But Bond's most famous indulgence is the martini, which he orders thirty-five times in Fleming's oeuvre. And as early as Casino Royale, he's instructing barmen to "shake it very well until it's ice-cold." Sean Connery went on to turn "shaken, not shtirred" into a much-imitated catchphrase. In 2005, it was voted one of the 100 most memorable movie quotes of all time by the American Film Institute.

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I'm not a drinker, and everything I know about cocktails comes from James Bond, so I was personally very troubled to learn that pretty much all bartenders agree: 007 doesn't know the first thing about martinis. For one thing, he usually orders his signature drink with vodka rather than gin, which would disqualify it from being a martini in the eyes of purists. But more to the point, shaking isn't a smart, in-the-know secret for martini-mixing—a gentle stir with a thin wooden spoon is standard practice for a reason. Shaking a martini melts more ice, diluting the drink and making it too cold. It also aerates the mixture, which makes it visibly cloudy and can bruise the flavor of the gin.

In 2013, a tongue-in-cheek British medical study proposed that Bond has to shake his martinis, because he suffers from alcohol-induced tremors that make stirring difficult. The researchers' close reading of the Fleming novels revealed that Bond drinks an average of 105.1 grams of alcohol a day when he's not being imprisoned in a super-villain's lair, enough to raise his risk of liver disease seven times. Using a martini shaker might just be a way of concealing from employers and enemies alike that he's a high-functioning alcoholic.

Quick Quiz: In the films, Bond's most common drink isn't a martini, but rather what French champagne?

Ken Jennings is the author of eleven books, most recently his Junior Genius Guides, Because I Said So!, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

daveinwarshington


quality posts: 86 Private Messages daveinwarshington

I just finished watching Goldfinger...


And yes, never shake a proper martini.


jaimelobo


quality posts: 3 Private Messages jaimelobo

Except, the original Bond connection is a moot point, since in Casino Royale, Bond does not order a "Martini" (i.e., gin/dry Vermouth). He orders a mix of Vodka, Gin, and Lillet -- he names it a "Vesper".

"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"

Not saying in the movies, the "shaken, not stirred" line isn't used when he refers to a more traditional Martini, but in Casino Royale, he never orders a Martini.

SumLetum


quality posts: 0 Private Messages SumLetum

Also, as far as I can remember ordering ones preference is not the same as try to be a mix drink snob. Like all things 007, there is the right way, the wrong way, and the Bond way. It was the miss conception of fans that interpreted this the correct way to make a Martini. Not the film makers or the original writers.

rhindlethered


quality posts: 0 Private Messages rhindlethered

I think I'll take Fleming's world-traveled word over any bartender, clearly taught what to say and do.

rhindlethered


quality posts: 0 Private Messages rhindlethered

More to the point, the reason Fleming (and, by extension, the films) have Bond do things like this is not to indicate that he's a know-it-all. It's to indicate that he likes things *his way*. So, it doesn't really matter what "experts" say is best. He likes his drinks shaken, not stirred and makes a point to see it is done his way. He likes his bacon crisp. Does that mean he thinks himself an expert on the preparation of bacon for everyone?

davidbowser


quality posts: 2 Private Messages davidbowser

Another oddity of the books (which I don't think is in the movies) is that Bond likes coffee with his breakfast. He even comments on how bland/boring British tea drinking is.

pftpft


quality posts: 1 Private Messages pftpft

A martini can't be "too cold" - the colder the better. And shaking is the best way to get it there.

whoiskenjennings


quality posts: 9 Private Messages whoiskenjennings

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jaimelobo wrote:Except, the original Bond connection is a moot point, since in Casino Royale, Bond does not order a "Martini"



Nope. The Casino Royale quote above isn't the "Vesper"...it's a different scene in Chapter 5 where he orders a dry martini that way. He proceeds to order martinis "shaken and not stirred" in many other novels, beginning with Live and Let Die and Dr. No.

whoiskenjennings


quality posts: 9 Private Messages whoiskenjennings

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rhindlethered wrote:I think I'll take Fleming's world-traveled word over any bartender, clearly taught what to say and do.



Yes, curse those professional bartenders, with their training and experience!

The piece is not intended to debunk what the preferences of James Bond (a fictional character, fyi!) are or should have been. He can eat his damn bacon any way he wants. But the catchphrase has convinced many a cocktail rookie that Bond's eccentric drink order is the industry standard--or at least the one generally preferred by the palates of those "in the know." And that's not true.

daveinwarshington


quality posts: 86 Private Messages daveinwarshington

This is from Goldfinger (I just watched it this last weekend)



jaimelobo


quality posts: 3 Private Messages jaimelobo
whoiskenjennings wrote:Nope. The Casino Royale quote above isn't the "Vesper"...it's a different scene in Chapter 5 where he orders a dry martini that way. He proceeds to order martinis "shaken and not stirred" in many other novels, beginning with Live and Let Die and Dr. No.


Actually the quote is from Chapter 7 (Rouge et Noir)

He does not call it a Vesper in the scene quoted, but when asked later what he drink is called, he names it the Vesper. Since he has "created" the drink, the barman wouldn't how to make it. The point being, in this instance, he isn't ordering a standard martini, but rather a variation, which he wants prepared his way.

Perhaps Flemming didn't want to waste time having bond explain the entire drink in the later books (or got lazy). I was only commenting on Casino Royale, where the drink is described in detail.

chaber


quality posts: 0 Private Messages chaber

Bollinger RD in the later films.