October 21, 2023

Master Mixology: Shaken Vs. Stirred 

This episode explores the science behind shaken and stirred drinks while mixing up three well-known cocktails. In the content below the video, find more details and recipes included in this episode. 

Alcoholic cocktails set, strong drinks and aperitifs, bar tools, bottles on dark green background, hard light. Martini vodka, pink lady, aperol spritz, margarita, old fashioned cocktail in glasses

Welcome back to Master Mixology with Discovery Place Science! This video series explores the intersection of science, history and alcohol, plus fun adult beverage demonstrations. 

James Bond was not just being picky when he asked for his martini “shaken, not stirred.” There are reasons found in both physics and chemistry as to why the method of preparation affects the flavors in a drink. 

This episode explores the science behind shaken and stirred drinks while mixing up three well-known cocktails. In the content below the video, find more details and recipes included in this episode. 

Shake It Up! 

Shaking is required with many mixed drinks because spirits and other liquids (like juice or several types of alcohol) don’t blend well on their own due to their differing densities and chemical properties. 

This leads to an overpowered or otherwise unbalanced cocktail if the ingredients are not forced to be incorporated through movement. 

Conversely, water is a great solvent that helps dissolve and absorb different flavors and blend them together. Ice that melts during the drink shaking process not only cools the drink but also binds the ingredients into a cohesive sip and softens the harsh taste of uncut liquor. 

Shaking also breaks open the cells of mix-ins such as mint leaves or citrus, releasing their natural flavors and enhancing the taste through chemistry and scent. 

Featured Shaken Cocktail: Lemon Drop Martini 


  • Martini glass 
  • Shaker and strainer 
  • Ice 
  • 2 oz vodka 
  • .75 oz triple sec 
  • 1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice 
  • .75 oz simple syrup 
  • Simple syrup and sugar for a sugar rim 
  • Lemon twist for garnish 


  1. Coat the rim of the martini glass in simple syrup and dip the glass’s edge into a plate of sugar for a sugar rim. Set the glass to the side and prepare the drink.  
  2. Build the drink over ice in the shaker: vodka, triple sec, lemon juice and simple syrup.  
  3. Shake vigorously. 
  4. Strain the shaker contents into the martini glass. 
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve!

Stir It Up! 

If a cocktail’s ingredients are all liquor, like a martini, a gentle stir leads to the best flavor (sorry, James Bond!). 

Although shaking combines ingredients and quickly chills the drink, the aeration that occurs during the shaking can break down the character of the liquor itself since the chemistry, and therefore the flavor, of the alcohol is impacted by the air. 

The exposure to oxygen can cause the alcohol groups to be converted to aldehydes, which leave a bitter or bruised taste. In the presence of water, aldehydes can further change into other unpleasant-tasting compounds. 

Gently stirring these types of drinks with ice prevents dilution of the cocktail and keeps aeration to a minimum. 

Featured Stirred Cocktail: Manhattan 


  • Martini glass 
  • Shaker and strainer 
  • Ice  
  • Stir spoon 
  • 2 oz whiskey (rye whiskey if available) 
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth 
  • 2 dashes of bitters 
  • Cherry garnish 


  1. Add whiskey, vermouth and bitters over ice in the shaker. 
  2. Using a stir spoon, gently stir for 45 seconds to a minute. 
  3. Strain the shaker contents into the martini glass. 
  4. Garnish with a cherry and serve! 

Stationary Cocktails 

There are some cocktails that shouldn’t be stirred or shaken at all. This includes any sparkling alcohol or mixed drink with a carbonated addition. 

Why? Because it can go flat with too much stirring and explode in a shaker with any vigorous movement. 

To keep the carbon dioxide and its crisp, bubbly flavor contained in a drink, simply pour the ingredients over ice and serve. 

Featured Stationary Cocktail: Whiskey Ginger 


  • Rocks glass 
  • Ice 
  • 2 oz whiskey 
  • Ginger ale 
  • Lime wedge for garnish


  1. Fill a rocks glass with ice. 
  2. Pour whiskey and ginger ale over the ice. 
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve! 

If you try any of these drinks, share your feedback by tagging @DiscoveryPlaceScience on social media! 

Want more Master Mixology? Check out our previous episode, Viscosity Rainbow Shots.