Shaken, Not Stirred: The Science behind Bond’s Martini

Shaken, Not Stirred: The Science behind Bond’s Martini

Moderate alcohol consumption reduces risks of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cataracts. As Mr Bond enjoys perennial robust health, scientists investigated whether the mode of preparing martinis has an influence on their antioxidant capacity.  Reporting in the British Medical Journal, they concluded that 007 was not only astute in matters of clandestine affairs both personal and international, he also had keen scientific and medical insights.

Anti-Aging Antioxidants: Wonder why 007 looks so young? Shaken martinis were more effective in deactivating hydrogen peroxide than the stirred variety, and both were more effective than gin or vermouth alone (0.072% of peroxide remaining for shaken martini, 0.157% for stirred vs. 58.3% for gin and 1.90% for vermouth). More data:

Daddy Cool? When the martini is shaken, not stirred, tiny bits of ice flake into the drink, and as they melt, the drink is distinctly colder. It’s also more dilute, so perhaps Bond was going easy on the alcohol to keep his head clear?

Vespers to Esters: Water, in the form of ice, breaks down the esters to release aromatics. “Shaking will better remove very volatile organic compounds from the liquid” explains George Christou of the University of Florida, “and air oxidizes some of the other organic compounds present, affecting its taste.” This is akin to letting red wine breathe before you serve it.

Recipe: Vesper Cocktail, from James Bond in Ian Fleming’s 1953 book Casino Royale.  “Shake it very well, until it’s ice cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

– 3 oz Gordon’s Gin

– 1 oz Stoli Vodka

– 1/2 oz Kina Lillet

Watch: Dashing Bonds delivering the famous one liner over the years. Vodka Martini, Shaken, Not Stirred

Reference: Shaken, not stirred: bioanalytical study of the antioxidant activities of martinis. Trevithick et al., 1999. British Medical Journal 319:1600

Happy Birthday to our own Mr. Bond, Gnotic Pasta ! #DashingDansVan  

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96 Responses to Shaken, Not Stirred: The Science behind Bond’s Martini

  1. I read somewhere that Kina Lillet of these days is not the same as the one from those days. Pity, would have liked to try the original drink…

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    Apparently so 😦

    At least we still have Angostura Bitters.

  3. Rajini Rao says:

    Gnotic Pasta , there is a variant called Filthy Martini? O_o

  4. Please tell me I don’t have to start shaking my beer, there are enough esters already

  5. Rajini Rao says:

    Jeffrey J Davis , for beer (and champagne), I recommend research on the physics of bubbles 🙂


  6. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks, Ali Adelstein . Now I’m worried that with two alcoholic posts in a row, my friends will conclude that I’m a hic lush.

  7. Rajini Rao says:

    Shaker Cherukuri , there’s tons of flavor in Bond’s martini..polyphenols and terpenes, as in wine.

  8. Rajini Rao I’m so proud of you that you finally came out of the closet

  9. Rajini Rao says:

    Hey!!! Anyway, I only experiment in the name of science,

    Gnotic Pasta 

  10. Rajini Rao says:

    It’s night time somewhere, Gnotic Pasta 🙂

  11. Rajini Rao says:

    That would be a prudent and good deed, Maurice Smith 🙂

  12. Sangi Malk says:

    Love Martini but always in moderation 😉

  13. Rajini Rao says:

    Feisal Kamil , why? Mr. Bond could learn a thing or two from Mr. Dan (especially re. the van) 🙂

  14. Mad B says:

    Wow Rajini Rao worms, champagne, paneer, optic nerves, sending trolls away on asymptotic exit 🙂 now James Bond, you never cease to amaze me. 🙂

  15. Rajini Rao says:

    Hilarious song, Gnotic Pasta . Yes, that’s science! 🙂

    This is what the googles tells me: “The wide open brim of the cocktail glass is said to produce surface tension that brings out the bouquet of the gin and creates a nicer display of the olive garnish than a standard cocktail glass. The coned shape also keeps the ingredients of the drink from separating. While these facts may be true, many people believe that martini glasses were invented during Prohibition, where the wide mouth of the glass made it easier to quickly dispose of the illegal alcohol during a police raid.”

  16. Nice to see the whole story laid out. One can easily see from the video how Bond’s martini slowly morphed into just a crappy vodka martini to shorten the dialogue. 3:1:0.5 easy. My half measure I use Noilly Pratt vermouth although I will be buying some Lillet this weekend to try the original out. The only change in the Lillet is they lowered the sugar content. I bet they also lowered the quinine too since the sugar is in there to cut the bitter of the quinine.

  17. Rajini Rao says:

    Paul T Morrison , the recommendation is to add quinine powder directly to your martini to compensate for the new formulation of Lillet :

  18. I’ll have to try that out. I do this every year. My New Year’s resolution is to take the time to make the Bond martini but by February I am pouring Bombay Gin over ice in a mason jar, two shakes and voilà.

  19. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, there is something to be said for expediency.

  20. the big question i have is who funded this study ?  i would love to read that grant proposal…. we need funding to see if martinis that are shaken not stirred actually have more antioxident properties …

    oh sure, this is an important study that deserves funding…. let’s give them a pile of cash…

  21. Matt Myers says:

    This was on an episode of The West Wing…

  22. i didn’t see that, i wasn’t a big fan of the west wing when it was on, but i have since learned to like it.  but i have only seen sporadic episodes

  23. Rajini Rao says:

    Here you go, Robert Blahut .

    “Funding:  Except for MH and JRT, all staff on the project were summer students supported by Work Study, Canada Manpower, Youth Opportunities Unlimited Ontario, and by grants from Labatt Breweries to MH and JRT Corby Distilleries provided samples of gin and vermouth.

    Competing interests: The research grants from Labatt Breweries were used for a portion of the laboratory supplies”.

    I would love to receive grants from breweries 🙂 In the champagne bubbles study that I reported on recently, supplies were provided by French winery.

  24. i didn’t say it was expensive,  just that it was a ridiculous request for funding.  

  25. perhaps that is why i am not a scientist,  i don’t care how many moles of bicycle seat react with how many moles of butt… i don’t think that that kind of minutia needs quantification.  at least that kind of quantification doesn’t interest me.  not that it might not interest someone else, but i really don’t care

  26. Rajini Rao says:

    Reasons vs. ridicules are in the eyes of the beholder. Remember Sarah Palin and her infamous “fruit fly research” comment? There’s merit in science outreach to kids using easy and cool projects like this, and of course, excellent advertising for the alcohol industry as Dan said. A surprising amount of research goes into the wine/beer production…or perhaps not so surprising, given how much money it brings.

  27. Samia Elsaid says:

    R you sure about those tips discussed above? You know alcohol is forbidden in most religions 😉 Rajini Rao

  28. Rajini Rao says:

    Robert Blahut , the published paper was obviously an expression of tongue in cheek humor. Scientists are real people who devote their lives to a hard and serious pursuit. It’s nice when they let their hair down and have some fun.

  29. Rajini Rao says:

    Samia Elsaid , it’s a good thing that I’m not religious then 😉

  30. Rajini Rao says:

    As long as you don’t drink the evidence 🙂

  31. Samia Elsaid says:

    I m not quite sure about that,all I know it s forbidden for some reasons.previously, it was all about the brain.nowadays, it s the liver as well Feisal Kamil

  32. Rajini Rao says:

    Conclusion: You don’t have to drink a martini to enjoy James Bond or to wish Dashing Dan a happy birthday!

  33. I think most are missing the reason for these summer internships and maybe also the reason for doing scientific experimentation even down to the minutia.  A ten week summer grant cannot attack an in depth problem. They are better done like this so one can complete an hypothesis and get results. Show the students how science can be done.

    And is this kind of experimentation important? No one knows where the next big breakthrough that can move into the clinic comes from. These students are being shown ways of deactivating hydrogen peroxide. They might take that idea and increase your lifespan another year and you will never know.

    The minutia is where the rubber meets the road. How do we know that  bisphenol A is extremely dangerous when you make baby bottles out of it? Because scientist who took notes on minutia and saw that the mice contained in a certain lot of plastic containers deviated from the norm slightly (a little more nondisjunction ). I hope Patricia Hunt wins the Nobel Prize for that minutia.

  34. Rajini Rao says:

    Well said, thanks Paul T Morrison . I didn’t know the story behind the investigation of bisphenol A, going to look up Patricia Hunt. 

  35. She received the Rosensteil Award at Brandeis a few months ago and her longer story is amazing but the hook was the fact she first noticed it because of mouse cage manufacturer changes. I use it when i prod my lab to take detailed notes and win the big prize!

  36. Wesley Yeoh says:

    now I’m curious what actually happens when you stir instead of shake

  37. Rajini Rao says:

    Just less of everything, Wesley Yeoh , since stirring is just a milder form of shaking?

     Also, you would incur the displeasure of Mr. Bond. I wouldn’t recommend that 🙂

  38. Robert Blahut also has a point. How the hell do you get this stuff funded? From the article perspective it does seem silly stirring and shaking martinis. But I bet the grant application had a lot of verbiage about aldehydes, esters and deactivating hydrogen peroxide and did not mention James Bond at all. That was just a side benefit. I wish I could write grants that would interest gin manufacturers. Anyone want to send me free samples?

  39. Wesley Yeoh , from my extensive experimentation I have found one large difference between stirring and shaking. With  shaking one causes the a small amount of the ice to fracture into very small fragments if done correctly. A twenty second moderately violent shake makes plenty of these that make it past the strainer and into the chilled martini glass. If you look closely the surface has a thin skin of these little fragments. You cannot detect the actual ice in the first sip but the martini stays noticeably colder for the next ten minutes. If the martini is not finished within ten minutes you’re doing something wrong.

  40. Mary T says:

    Happy Birthday, Dan, aka Bond, shaken, not stirred ;P

  41. Rajini Rao says:

    I should try for funding from the wine industry 🙂 One of the genes we cloned is a determinant in grape berry ripening and acidity: A grape berry (Vitis vinifera L.) cation/proton antiporter is associated with berry ripening. Plant Cell Physiol. 2007 Jun;48(6):804-11.

  42. Arizona Bob says:

    Great article Rajini Rao! I knew there was a secret to eternal youth! 🙂 Thanks!!! Will jump over to Dan’s page now and see if he is making one of these for his birthday. Have a great day Rajini!

  43. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks, Mike Clancy and Arizona Bob . My day is only going to get better now that I’ve just ordered a new furnace to replace the busted one in my home. Brrr….escaping to work at last 🙂

  44. Arizona Bob says:

    I did notice you posted something about a broken furnace a day or two ago…I hope you haven’t been too long without. Hopefully the new one arrives quickly! Have a great day Rajini Rao ! 🙂

  45. Vidit Parab says:

    This is the best article I read today

  46. Rajini Rao says:

    Good example of a non sequitor , David Robertson .

  47. Jim Carver says:

    David Robertson …but not one troll was harmed in any way, in the making of this film.

  48. Jim Carver says:

    David Robertson In terms of numbers, sugar kills more since you are so intent on your tangent.

  49. Jim Carver says:

    Feisal Kamil I’ll toast that and wish Dan a happy birthday!

  50. Jim Carver says:

    Thanks for that David. My sable was eying you. 🙂

  51. Kawthar A says:

    Uhm.. The third post 😉

    Nice one dear! 🙂

  52. Jim Carver says:

    A good shot of bourbon before flying a helicopter can take the edge off and avoid getting the “death grip”.

  53. “Robust health”? Jim got sent to Shrublands in Thunderball because he drank too much and was in bad shape.

  54. Arun Shroff says:

     Rajini Rao :This post is making me thirsty  😉 

    More “stirring” details and trivia about Bond’s classic concoction can be found at the dedicated Wikipedia page for Shaken, Not Stirred  (at –  Wikipedia never ceases to amaze me).  Interesting  and relevant excerpt: 

    “A Vesper differs from Bond’s usual cocktail of choice, the martini, in that it uses both gin and vodka, Kina Lillet instead of vermouth, and a lemon peel instead of an olive. In the same scene Bond gives more details about the Vesper, telling the same barman that vodka made from grain instead of potatoes makes the drink even better. Kina Lillet is no longer available, but can be approximated  by using the sweeter Lillet Blanc along with a dash of Angostura Bitters. Russian and Polish vodkas were also always preferred by Bond if they were in stock. Although there is a lot of discussion on the Vesper, it is only ordered once throughout Fleming’s novels and by later books Bond is ordering regular vodka martinis, though he also drinks regular gin martinis.” 

  55. Levi Turner says:

    Shaking makes a cloudy Martini, no one wants that. Quickly pour ingredients over ice, stir once and strain.  It always confused me that this classy guy would want a cloudy Martini.

  56. Jim Carver says:

    Levi Turner He’s from the British Isles; he probably wants the drink to match the weather. ;D

  57. Arun Shroff says:

    Levi Turner Apparently, the shaken martini cools faster – so Bond doesn’t mind the cloudy appearance – speed is of the essence when you are 007! 

  58. Rajini Rao says:

    Arun Shroff , I did indeed investigate that Wiki site, it was a fount of knowledge! Here’s something amusing I read, martini purists (gin only) such are snobs, whereas vodka martini drinkers are more open to experimentation and allow more variations to carry the name of their drink. The other point to nitpick that has not appeared in this thread is the so-called “bruising” that happens when the drink is shaken. Apparently (I have no personal knowledge of this), shaking a martini dissolves air into the mix; “bruising” the gin which makes a martini taste too “sharp.”

  59. Arun Shroff says:

    Rajini Rao  Interesting. So shaking, which is considered violent to the drink and “bruises” it – is apt as it is  in sync with the overall theme of the movies and the character of  Bond! 

  60. Jim Carver says:

    Gnotic Pasta Ah, but you don’t get the juniper oils that way. Well maybe you don’t like ’em. Can’t say if I’ve made up my mind about that one either.

  61. Arun Shroff says:

    Rajini Rao Also learnt from that Wiki page the all important fact that the drink itself – Vesper is named after the Bond girl, Vesper Lynd.  As I said before – Wikipedia never ceases to amaze me! 

  62. Jim Carver says:

    Yeah, I’ve only had two martinis one time in my 20s. Something in there packs a wallup. I drank gin and tonic one time on New Year’s when I was younger also…got sick as a dog. Of course the 7200′ elevation in Salida CO probably had something to do with it also.

  63. Jim Carver says:

    You know they say water is the universal solvent. I’m not so sure. They’ve found large masses of alcohol among the stars also. Maybe there’s a life form out there that uses alcohol to carry out their chemical reactions. I know enough chemistry to see how this might be possible. You would have to redo everything completely but it makes more sense than liquid methane or something (ridiculous theory, not enough kinetic energy, period)

    On these worlds, water is a highly regulated and taxed substance though. You see that’s what they use to get drunk. /

  64. Tom Lee says:

    Rajini Rao so one of your new year resolutions is digging deep into alcohol research? It’s not going to complete an in depth research without starting to consume a large amount of it. Mme Curie had to inject herself with radioactive material to effective understand its effects to human’s body. Have you ever tried a martini ? I’ve tried it once. Boy, that was a strong drink. It will knock your socks off! Speaking of Bond, he will have no problems with it.

  65. Rajini Rao says:

    Tom Lee , I’m laying off the alcohol posts for a while! Otherwise, I’ll have to join Alcoholics Anonymous on Google Plus 🙂 I shall try to post on Very Serious Science to make up for the last two boozy posts. I’m more of a wine drinker wine, in moderation, helps me unwind after a hectic day. As for Bond, this was a good excuse to post pix of Sean Connery. Hmm…any science topics relating to Peter Frampton??

  66. Rajini Rao says:

    Jim Carver , ethanol is a pretty good solvent. That was a fun exercise, contemplating a world with oceans of alcohol and regulated supplies of water.  There is such a thing as water toxicity too 🙂

  67. Jim Carver says:

    Rajini Rao Frampton? Oh that’s dreams…must have been a dream, don’t know where I’ve been…

    Idk, maybe you’ve already done it. How about farts? Everybody wants to know more about farts. More than they do about alcohol based life forms I guess. :B

  68. Rajini Rao says:

    I’ll pick Frampton over farts, thanks 🙂

  69. Mary T says:

    Good Evening Rajini–I’ve been out in the cold all day, away from the party, so am late to comment. I LOVED this post!!! Perfect in every way to celebrate our good friend’s birthday.

    Everyone, drink one last toast to our friend Gnotic Pasta–Cheers!!! I’m having some wine myself ;D.

  70. Rajini Rao says:

    Cheers, Mara Rose ! I had some wine too, winding down and ready for the weekend 🙂

  71. Tom Lee says:

    Rajini Rao science can be found in anything around us. Scientific boozy posts can be fascinating, especially around Christmas/ New Year time. Speaking of Frampton, just wondering what is your scientific explanation of his long blonde curly hair in the 70s ? :-}

  72. Mary T says:

    Have a nice evening, Rajini. I hope you are warm 😉

  73. Rajini Rao says:

    Tom Lee  Ooh, I do have some interesting science info on hair structure..differences between blonde and Asian hair types under the electron microscope, for example. Wonder if I can sneak in a Frampton pix? 😛

    Mara Rose , I’m sitting right next to the space heater 🙂 New furnace won’t be installed until Tuesday. 

  74. Rajini Rao says:

    I just heard a story about Peter Frampton yesterday where he credited his school mate, David Bowie, for picking him up after his slump following Frampton Alive and helping redefine him as Frampton the guitarist. 

  75. Tom Lee says:

    By all means, Rajini. How about, sorry off the subject a little here, why did he lose his gorgeous hair all of a sudden, scientifically?

  76. Rajini Rao says:

    Male pattern baldness, scientifically known as Androgenic alopecia, I’m guessing. The genes causing it are on the X chromosome, so it affects men more than women. His hair is white too 😦

  77. Tom Lee says:

    Sure. He’s aged gracefully. But it seems that male Caucasians seem to lose their hair sooner than their Asian counterparts. But anyway, this boozy post of yours does get lots of interest. Hmm, or may be the Connery Bond guy ! 🙂

  78. I don’t know about Bond not aging Rajini Rao   … he looks …different somehow.  Too much botox?  I mean, in his younger days he looked a lot like George Lazenby, then Sean Connery… now Daniel Craig… Hmmm.  In any case … can you address the efficacy (or not) of a Bloody Mary as an anti-hangover potion?  …surely it’s not the salt?  (1489 g of sodium!

  79. Tom Lee says:

    Bond, Connery, Moore, even Brosnan or Craig, all look years older in real life than on the silver screen. The art of make up and  cinematography. There are time when I look at a beautiful actress pictures on Vamity Fair and fell in love (sic!), then the next day saw another picture of those actresses on a tabloid magazine and they were looking so bad. 🙂

  80. Rajini Rao says:

    I think of Bond as heavenly incarnations 🙂 

    John Christopher , now you’ve got me with that question. A quick googling did not yield reliable info on whether there is a scientific basis to Bloody Mary’s for hangover treatment, other than the hair of the dog, theory. This calls for further investigation. Oh noes, I hope I don’t have to make a third boozy post…my reputation is pretty shot by now 😛

  81. Rajini Rao says:

    Yes, it’s your fault Tom Lee ! The boozy art started it 🙂

  82. Tom Lee says:

    Rajini Rao Sorry ! that post was up after a few glass of wine and a pina colada ! 😀

    Gnotic Pasta Let us know if you were still upright after that martini shot ! LOL

  83. Rajini Rao says:

    Did you acquire Vesper Lynd too? 😉

  84. Rajini Rao says:

    Here’s what to look for, Gnotic Pasta 🙂

  85. Mike Kupfer says:

    A coworker had a line about this in his email signature for awhile…

    James Bond was visiting San Francisco.  There was a big earthquake in the middle of the night, but Bond didn’t wake up.  That’s right, he was shaken, but not stirred. 😉

  86. Rajini Rao says:

    That’s a hilarious story, thanks 🙂

  87. The only instance wherein using the word “but” works.

  88. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, Bobby Shaftoe 😉

  89. Rose L. says:

    That’s how I make all of my martinis. I shake that shaker up really good!!!

  90. This is just fantastic 🙂

  91. There are a lot of antioxidants, why alcohol?

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