Gin or vodka?

    Shaken or stirred?

    Olives or onions?

    What kind of vermouth?

    Let’s start with “Shaken or stirred?” Shaking a martini was not really a thing until James Bond popularized it. Basically, any drink that is alcohol-forward should be stirred. Shaking is primarily to better mix ingredients other than alcohol. Shaking with ice makes the drink very cold, but it also dilutes the alcohol. On The West Wing, President Jed Bartlett once commented that James Bond was “ordering a weak drink and being snooty about it.” For the record, here’s the passage from Casino Royale which was shortened to “shaken, not stirred” for the screen.

    “A dry Martini,” he said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”

    “Oui, Monsieur.”

    “Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?”

    “Certainly, Monsieur.” The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

    “Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,” said Leiter.

    Bond laughed. “When I’m—er—concentrating,” he explained, “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. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.”

    I don’t think he was “ordering a weak drink and being snooty about it.” By the way, for those of you who want to try mixing a “Vesper” (the name he sttled on) for yourself, Kina Lillet is no longer available, but you may substitute Cocchi Americano, an Italian aperitif.

  • For my Thursday Zoom happy hour, I'll be making these...

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Stanley Tucci (@stanleytucci) on Apr 20, 2020 at 11:04am PDT

  • Followed by whatever corrections I can make to the recipe from this article (using whatever ingredients are on hand). And then decide which technique I like the best.

  • OK, maybe this embed will work:

  • I've never had a martini.  

    I used to go to a place that served a drink called a "Frozen Nervous Breakdown":  Vodka, Chambord, Triple Sec and ice cream. Tasty as I recall.

  • I prefer gin, but I've got friends really into martinis that use vodka. They also deal with the olive/onion question by using one of each. I do that too when I have cocktail onions on hand. I recently bought Rivata vermouth, sweet and dry, which I like a lot. 

  • As I mentioned on the Beer thread I got to know a bartender in the Bay area of Cali through my brother. I was there once when he and a customer were in a spirited debate over shaken or stirred when it comes to a martini. He then did a side by side comparison. Not only does stirring prevent diluting your drink, it also makes for a more visually appealing drink. Shaking it makes the martini cloudy, and stirring gives it a much more crisper, clear look.

    When the customer mentioned that James Bond preferred his martinis shaken, he responded,"Bond is a cretin." Which made me laugh more than it probably should have.

    As for me, I prefer the tricked up version of a martini, hell they should probably be called "martinis". We had a group outing one time to a place that had a wide variety of different martinis. I remember getting a sour apple martini that was garnished with a Jolly Rancher which I really enjoyed. I also had a dragon martini, but I have no idea what was in it.

    What I have noticed at bars around here, is that the vodka martini is now the default martini, replacing gin. Of course small sample size certainly applies.

  • “For my Thursday Zoom happy hour, I'll be making these... followed by whatever corrections I can make to the recipe from this article… and then decide which technique I like the best.”

    Well, don’t keep us in suspense!

    (Having both watched the video and read the article, my money’s on the article.)

    “I recently bought Rivata vermouth, sweet and dry…”

    Wait, I thought dry was the opposite of sweet…?

    Moving on…


    Traditionally, Martinis are made with gin. Gin certainly has the more romantic history (gin joints, bathtub gin, etc.). The surgeons from M*A*S*H drank gin martinis; James Bond, vodka. (Not surprising given his associations with Russia and the Cold War.) Because of James Bond, I used to think Vodka martinis were more “sophisticated,” but I’m coming around to the gin side of the debate.

    OLIVES OR ONIONS: Olives with vodka, onions with gin.


    About the only kind of vermouth I could have named a few weeks ago is Martini & Rossi, because of the TV commercials… back to the days when liquor could be advertised on TV. They didn’t have any in stock the first time I bought some, so I bought Carpana Antica Formula… for no other reason than I recognized the label. Didn’t like it. The next time I bought Dolin… based on five minutes of online research. Not bad. Next, I found some Martini & Rossi. I tried the blanco. It was somewhat… “creamy” tasting. Martinis (I have learned) can vary widely based on vodka or gin (and what brand) and also what brand of vermouth. Plus, must vermouth comes in varieties of dry, blanc or rouge.

    I’m still mixing and matching.

  • Ah, I wound up in a hurry for my happy hour, and wound up not using a shaker after all. All the negronis I've ever had have been on the rocks, so I went that way. But I'll be trying the shaker soon!

  • “I recently bought Rivata vermouth, sweet and dry…”

    Wait, I thought dry was the opposite of sweet…?

    I meant I bought one of each! This is the first sweet vermouth I've owned, so I can't compare (I do like it a lot). I think we've had Martini & Rossi extra dry vermouth, but right now we have a bottle of Gallo. The Rivata is dry rather than extra dry. And it actually tastes like something I'd want to drink! So I'm using the full amount in my martini recipe, rather than none (my wife's preference) or a spritz (like the aforementioned martini fans).

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