James Bond infamously takes his martinis one way only — “shaken, not stirred” — but why does James Bond order his martinis shaken when the cocktail is supposed to be stirred? James Bond’s martini order is almost as much of a part of 007’s personal brand as his fondness for introducing himself surname first, driving Aston Martins, and not doing things by the book. Throughout the franchise the “shaken, not stirred” line has been a moment that fans have eagerly looked out for, and the suggestion that Bond would drink his beverage of choice any other way would be considered anathema. But why the twist on the traditional recipe?
Any mixologist or bartender worth their salt-rimmed glass will tell you that a martini is supposed to be stirred — and that what Bond is actually ordering is a Bradford martini (albeit without the optional bitters). In that respect, his preference for shaking seems particularly odd. In Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale, there’s some suggestion that the first time Bond orders a cocktail to be “shaken” over the usual fashion when he orders a Vesper is because of the presence of vodka, and Bond’s preference for it to be bruised to improve its texture. Shaking gin-only martinis doesn’t achieve the same impact, but there’s also Bond’s sense of occasion and his very specific context to consider here too. Here’s every reason James Bond orders his martinis shaken not stirred.
James Bond Takes His Martinis The Same Way As Ian Fleming
James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s biographer Andrew Lycett committed to record that Fleming liked his own martinis shaken not stirred because he thought that stirring a drink compromised on flavor. That has no basis in anything other than Fleming’s preference, but therein lies the reason why Bond does it too: he is the product of his creator. Like the titles of every Bond movie, Bond’s choice of cocktail is a reflection of who he is as a person and as a spy, as much as his interest in the preservation of alcohol flavors. Shaking a cocktail might make gin martinis cloudy, but it also cools them faster, a key step for someone pressed for time (say on a mission) who nevertheless wishes to make an impact with what he orders. There is, after all, a performative element to why Bond orders his martinis shaken not stirred.
Bond’s Martini Order Is An Important Character Detail
There are also narrative reasons why James Bond orders his martinis shaken, not stirred. It’s both a personal taste he shares with his creator Ian Fleming, but also a tactic to socially manipulate the surrounding room. In Bond lore — and in the details of the movies — 007 has a preference for bourbon. This is why Skyfall villain Silva (Javier Bardem) identifies a 50-year-old Macallan single malt whiskey as one of his enemy’s favorites in a moment designed to disarm Bond through the knowledge of intimate details of his life.
In Casino Royale, he drinks a Vesper initially as a means to introduce a few other characters to Felix Leiter. When Felix comments on the complexity of what he orders, Bond explains “I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold, and very well made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention.” The artifice of his cocktail is supposed to say who Bond is. He is very particular, which is to be read as a strength as much as an idiosyncrasy. Since then, the shaken not stirred drink order has continued to be a mark of Bond’s difference and his disruptiveness. He does things on his terms to take control of a situation, even if they aren’t by the book.
There’s a moment in the Daniel Craig remake of Casino Royale that confirms Bond’s martini order is a charade for effect. The first time Bond orders a Vesper, he is very particular about how it should be made, and it makes such an impact that the rest of the poker players order the same thing. Yet, after his huge loss to Le Chiffre, he orders a martini and the barman asks whether he would like it shaken or stirred to which Bond angrily retorts “Do I look like I give a damn?” The purpose of the order — the pageantry and the seduction of his character — is no longer needed. That much confirms the suspicion that James Bond’s most famous drinking habit is at least partly an element of his spy game and nothing more.
“Shaken Not Stirred” Ties Together Every James Bond
Every Bond actor and era has their own spin on things, and almost the only consistent feature across all of them is that James Bond takes his vodka martinis shaken, not stirred. From the first Bond actor and movie to the last, his choice of drink is one of the few elements of Bond’s character that has never been altered, with perhaps the singular other being his codename — 007. James Bond’s martini order has been an important foundation for continuity throughout the loose franchise as it evolved over the decades, helping it remain semi-coherent against changing trends, sensibilities, and cinematic technologies.
If it weren’t for details like James Bond ordering his martinis shaken, not stirred, it would be difficult to justify that Sean Connery and Piers Brosnan are portraying the same person. Because of this minor but significant personality quirk, audiences are never in doubt they’re watching a movie about James Bond. Despite the stark differences in tone between Roger Moore’s campy take on Her Majesty’s favorite spy and Daniel Craig’s gritty franchise reboot, 007 has always had the same drink prepared the same way. Whoever the next James Bond will be, what’s certain is that he’s going to want his martini shaken, not stirred.