Martinis are alcoholic beverages composed of vodka or gin, vermouth and other additives. They are typically served in triangular glasses. The two widely accepted means of making a martini are to shake or stir the ingredients together. Drinkers who can tell the difference between methods order their martinis based on their preferences.
Traditional martinis are made with gin, dry vermouth and an olive or lemon peel. Vodka martinis replace the gin with vodka. Vodka is almost flavorless, so other ingredients must be added to provide flavor. The British author Ian Fleming helped popularize the vodka martini through his character James Bond. Bond referenced the drink in books and films.
Shaken martinis are prepared in a cocktail shaker with ice and then poured into serving glasses. The ice cools the liquid, making shaken martinis colder than stirred ones. The shaking process makes the vermouth dissolve more thoroughly into the rest of the drink, which gives the finished martini a less oily texture. Shaking martinis make the drink cloudy and “bruised.” This means air is dissolved into the liquid and gives the drink a sharp taste.
Proponents of stirred martinis insist the process is a better way than shaking to release and combine the drink’s ingredients. Some drinkers believe the more a martini is stirred, the better it will taste. Others argue that excessive stirring creates the same effects as bruising. Ice in a stirred martini does not cool the liquid as effectively as shaken martinis. This can be problematic for vodka martinis, since vodka is often best when it is served as cold as possible.
Because vodka is at its optimal quality when it is cold, the shaken with ice version is common for vodka martinis. If your concern is a smoother drink, choose a stirred martini. Traditional gin martinis do not need to be as cold as vodka martinis, and therefore do not need to be shaken. Stirring gin martinis brings out the flavors of the ingredients. Gin itself has a delicate flavor that is better appreciated when stirred.