James Bond famously orders his martinis made with vodka, not gin, and “shaken, not stirred.” As many like to point out (most recently Sean Carroll, here), this is not proper. Gin is better than vodka, and cocktails made only with liquors and no fruit or cream should generally be stirred rather than shaken. But I have not generally seen an explanation of why, in light of all this, Bond orders his martini this way. Was Ian Fleming just ignorant? Surely not. And if not, what is he trying to convey about Bond?
Today, while reading Colin Peter Field’s The Ritz Paris (a superb present from my wife), I happened across an explanation I love:
Why does James Bond drink Vodkatinis shaken not stirred? Well, if we apply the rules about “who and why”, we see at once that James Bond doesn’t exist, but Ian Fleming did. So stop looking at Bond! Fleming, in my opinion, wanted to symbolize the uniqueness of his character by making him do things that “just are not done”! At this time, one didn’t drink Vodkatinis, one drank Dry Martinis. They were supposed to be stirred, not shaken. The character survives situations that would finish off most of us because he does things fundamentally differently.