Shaken or Stirred? What is the difference?

Shaken or stirred? Your answer to this question depends mostly on your own preference. In this post, you will find enough information to at least give a qualified answer. 

“Shaken, not stirred” – That is probably one of the most well-known lines from any movie. It is a part of the James Bond character, almost as famous as his name.

The first time Jame Bond ordered his Martini this way was in the book Diamonds Are Forever, in 1956. For a background of the place that gave the author Ian Flemming the idea for “Shaken not stirred”, see my post: Dukes Hotel – Mekka for Cocktail Lovers.

There are two main discussions within the shaken or stirred theme, one is about chilling, the other about what happens with the liquid(s) in the shaker. Before we get to that, let’s start with the basics: The tools and the components of the cocktail.

Dukes Hotel
Alessandro Palazzi, the head bartender at Dukes Bar, with four shakers.

The shaker

Shakers come in two designs, Boston shaker – two-piece shaker with a metal bottom and a glass mixing glass as the top. The advantage of this shaker is that it takes munch liquid and that the two parts can be used as mixing glasses.

The other design is called a cobbler. This is a three-piece shaker with a metal mixing glass, a lid with a built-in strainer, and a cap.

Using a stainless steel shaker, instead of a glass shaker will have some positive effect on the dilution. That is because steel leads the cold more quickly, hence stealing less energy from the ice to chill.


The liquids

To minimize the dilution, make sure that the liquids are as cold as possible before adding the ice. This is about as far as everyone agrees. There is an ongoing discussion about what happens with the gin when you shake it.

Some say that aeration, the process by which air is circulated through the contents of the shaker, is a good thing – that it brings out the flavors in the botanicals of the gin. The other half will tell you that you are bruising the gin by shaking and chilling it too much. The jury is out, but personally, I think that this discussion sums it up pretty good.


The ice

The next thing is the ice itself. It is some truth in the theory that bigger ice cubes melt a bit slower than smaller cubes. The temperature of the ice is important. To make sure the ice is as cold as possible, take the ice straight from the freezer. If you are using an ice bucket, the ice will not only have a higher temperature, it will also have a layer of water on the outside – something that dilutes the drink.



Most people will tell you that it does not matter how you shake. One person that will disagree on that is the famous Japanese bartender Kazuo Uyeda. He is the inventor of the Hard Shake. You can read about my visit to his bar here: Shaken by a master.

According to Gizmondo, shaking will chill the drink significantly more than stirring it. However, the chilling comes at a cost; it will dilute the drink 1.75 times more than stirring does.

If you want to take a dive into the actual science of shaking, I recommend these two blog posts from Cooking Issues: Cocktails: The Science of Shaking and Tales of The Cocktail: Science of Shaking II.



It does not matter if you shake or stir, you have to strain in order to separate the ice and the liquid. To minimize dilution you should double strain. This means that in addition to your regular bar strainer, you should use a tea strainer to make totally sure that no ice make it into the glass. Steve will show you how it’s done:

Shaken or Stirred – summed up

– The drink will be less chilled.
+ Less dilution.
+ Less dilution and chill means that the flavors in the drink will be stronger.


– Will dilute the drink.
+ Will make the drink really cold.
+ The dilution and chill will take away much of the alcohol taste.

When making a Dry Martini for a Lady, I tend to shake it. This is because most women do not like a strong alcohol taste.


Shaken or stirred



Shaken or stirred – how to do it right?

No matter if you stir or shake, you always want to chill the glasses. The best way to do this is to fill the glass with cold water and add an ice cube. Leave it to chill while you are preparing the ingredients and tools. If you want to double-strain, find your tea strainer. Make sure to get all of the water out of the glass before you use it.


When you stir, you want the shaker to be as cold as possible before you start, in order to maximize chilling.

What you need:

  • Shaker glass or other big glass. (Make sure that your strainer fits properly in the glass.)
  • Strainer
  • Bar spoon or another long spoon.

How to do it:

  1. Put ice in the shaker. Let it rest to chill the mixing glass as much as possible.
  2. Find the ingredients that you want to use in the shaker.
  3. Before adding anything in the glass, make sure to get rid of all the water. Use a strainer.
  4. Measure and add the ingredients.
  5. Stir for approximately 15-30 seconds.
  6. Strain the contents of the glass into the pre-chilled glass.



When you shake, you want the ice to spend as little time as possible in the shaker. This is to minimize dilution.

What you need:

  • Shaker
  • Strainer – if your shaker does not have this built-in.

How to do it:

  1. Measure and add the ingredients into the shaker
  2. Make sure that the glasses are ready.
  3. Put ice in the shaker
  4. Shake for approximately 10-20 seconds
  5. Strain the contents of the shaker into the pre-chilled glass.


Have you made up your mind? Will your next cocktail be shaken or stirred?

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