Why does James Bond always ask for a martini “shaken, not stirred”? This is a simple explanation, meant for those who don’t wish to be liquor connoisseurs:

A martini is made with gin and vermouth. Gin can be “bruised” by shaking, which is to say, shaking ruins the taste. (I’d say, shaking makes it taste even worse, since I can’t stand the stuff.)

Brosnan as Bond enjoying a martini


However, James Bond doesn’t drink regular martinis; he drinks vodka martinis. Vodka tastes best when very cold, and the best way to get it to the proper temperature is to shake it up with ice.

Bartenders, though, are inclined not to shake martinis, because they are accustomed to martinis made with gin. I’ve tried it; if you order a vodka martini and don’t specify that it should be shaken, it probably won’t be properly cold when it arrives. You’d think bartenders would know to shake, just from Bond movies, but they often don’t.

What’s amusing is the in several Bond films (Goldfinger and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, for example), Bond orders a “martini, shaken, not stirred.” If vodka isn’t specified, then what you get is an improperly made gin martini. It’s as if sometimes the filmmakers know the what but not the why.

Well, now you know.