The Real Reason Some Martinis Are Stirred, Not Shaken

Thanks to James Bond, drinkers and non-drinkers alike are familiar with two primary ways of making a martini: Stirred and shaken. Yet, fewer may know the implications that each technique has on a particular drink. While shaking and stirring a cocktail can dilute boozy recipes and round out punchier flavors, the two strategies will impact a drink's final finish and offer unique mouthfeels for specific drinking experiences. 

Those grandiose shaking gestures of your local bartender aren't simply for show. Bartenders shake drinks to combine ingredients like egg whites and juice and to build texture with air bubbles. Moreover, this shaking movement chills drinks in the process. Shaking a drink can also result in a cloudy appearance, which, for some drinkers, may not be optimal when taking the first sip.

Stirring martini recipes, on the other hand, is the go-to move for bartenders working with liquors and syrups to create drinks that allow spirits to shine. Stirring is noticeably a less abrasive move while crafting a cocktail, yet the movement can still build smooth, diluted drinks. Recipes like a classic Manhattan are stirred since none of the ingredients need to be aerated and the goal is to serve a drink with a substantial mouthfeel. 

Master the drink-making skills of the professionals

While shaking drinks doesn't particularly require a unique talent, bartenders need to be aware of how diluted they want the drink to become and how long they should be shaking the drink. Stirring a cocktail, on the other hand, can require a bit more finesse. The deceptively simple act of stirring can take some time to perfect as a consistent, steady hand is required. Bartenders must know exactly how much ice should be present in a drink to get the temperature right while controlling the speed of the stir. 

If you're mixing up martinis and negronis to serve at home, you may want to consider stirring drinks to reduce aeration. The process will foster a classic texture — paving the way for the alcohol and flavors of your drinks to shine. With fewer air bubbles in these stirred cocktails, your balanced beverages will deliver that cold, boozy wallop you want to pour for your dinner party guests.