Regardless of the actor wearing the suit, James Bond has always shown his fondness for martinis. Of course, those are, in his iconic words, meant to be “shaken, not stirred.”
However, at the time Ian Fleming’s novel were first released in the 1950s, it was an odd choice. A gentleman ordering a shaken martini might be considered unconventional at best and a lightweight at worst. It is not the recommended way of drinking a martini. The flavor doesn’t pack as much punch, and the alcohol gets watered down. Shaking a martini also distributes the ice more evenly, making the drink colder. Each sip of a stirred martini is stronger. Because of that, a stirred martini would seem more in keeping with Bond’s personality. So why does the spy intentionally select a version of his favorite drink that’s seemingly weaker and considered less desirable?
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The shaken martini was a topic of discussion in a recent reddit thread where user TheVileFlibertigibet presented the theory Bond deliberately chooses a weaker drink to keep his wits sharp, while at the same time appearing more inebriated than he is to observers. That way the spy can take opponents by surprise if he ever needs to think or act quickly.
This is creative and would be a great theory, if not for the fact that a watered down drink technically doesn’t contain less alcohol. Each sip is less potent, but, if one were to finish their drink, they’d still consume the same amount of booze. So, unless Bond plans on leaving each drink unfinished, this theory doesn’t hold a lot of water. The Bond from the novels, where the shaking was first introduced, is also a heavy drinker who doesn’t seem concerned with limiting his alcohol intake.
Other reddit users added their own credible theories to the discussion, including the idea that Bond prefers his drinks colder, or that he orders his martinis shaken as a way of diluting poorer quality vodkas that aren’t quite up to his standards. The specificity of the order has to be taken into account. Bond is a character who knows exactly what he wants and is attuned to his own tastes. There must be a reason for his choice beyond mere whim or whimsy.
Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, was also very passionate and specific when it came to cocktails. Each time he wrote a drink into one of the books, it was meant to signify something about the character drinking it. One of the best rumors as to why Ian Fleming chose to make Bond a shaken, not stirred man was because he, himself once tried a martini that was served that way and found it quite enjoyable. Thus, he appointed that preference to his main character and the hero of his stories.
While movie versions of Bond have remained loyal to vodka, in the novels the character experiments far more with his martinis. Sometimes they’re shaken, but not always. Gin, which reacts worse to shaking than vodka, does make an occasional appearance. There’s also the famous Vesper martini, which is featured in the novel Casino Royale and contains both gin and vodka. The book version of Bond also works champagne, whisky and other cocktails into his drinking rotation.
The movies are less adventurous with Bond’s drinks. He’s more likely to stick to that shaken martini. And, with movies, it makes sense to stick to one, extremely quotable drink order. After all, it’s worked pretty well for 58 years.
Directed and co-written by Cary Fukunaga, No Time to Die stars Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright, Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek. The film arrives in theaters Nov. 25.
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