Should Gin Be Shaken Or Stirred

Whenever you ask an avid gin drinker whether you should stir or shake your gin, they’ll definitely tell you to stir it. Shaking is almost blasphemous in the gin world, but why so?

The best way to serve gin is to stir it. Gin consists of many ingredients, of which the juniper and coriander are the most likable. These make gin what it is, and when you shake it, you’ll damage the odor and taste of these ingredients.

Even though stirring your gin is often the preferred way, shaking your gin is no sin either. There are a few key differences between both ways, which we will explain in this article.

Why Stirring Gin Is The Preferred Way

We usually drink gin in combination with some other spirits or sodas. While preparing your favorite gin drink, there’s a good chance you’ll want to mix the ingredients and disperse the taste.

In order to mix your drink, there are two options, shaking or stirring. Both have their ups and downsides, however, when it comes to gin, it seems that stirring is way more popular than shaking.

Gin is comprised of what we call top, middle, and base notes. These include the ingredients responsible for the taste and smell.

Some of the more desirable ingredients in gin, such as coriander and juniper berries, are most prominent in the top notes.

Top notes are also the most volatile, while base notes are the strongest. It works the same way in perfumery, where the top notes evaporate long before the base notes.

When you shake gin, you’ll expose it to ice, air, and wild movements and you’ll damage the way the top notes have been created.

By doing so, the top notes become weak or disappear altogether, taking away that fresh and crisp scent we all love. This we call bruising the gin and bruising it makes your gin taste bland and dull.

The last thing you want to happen is to have your gin lose its lovely taste. And that’s why shaking your gin is often frowned upon. Of course, there’s also the argument of personal preference.

If you enjoy a more mellow taste of gin, by all means, shake it a little. However, gin is at its best when it is sharp, crisp, and fresh!

Of course, you also wouldn’t want to shake your gin cocktail when it consists of fizzy ingredients. Shaking them will cause them to bubble and overflow.

How Can You Retain The Signature Taste Of Gin

In order to retain the crisp and fresh scent of gin, you first have to learn how to properly stir it. Luckily, retaining the crisp and cool feel of gin is rather easy.

You just need to feel up your glass with lots of ice and stir it a lot.

Stirring your gin is actually really safe. Unless you stir as if your life depends on it, the chance of bruising is minimal. This allows a vigorous stir to still create that cold and crisp taste.

When you pour your gin into your shaker cup, you’ll ideally want to stir it till the shaker cup becomes a bit frosted on the outside. This is your clue that it’s stirred to perfection.

Knowing how to properly stir your gin is quite important, as gin is most commonly used in cocktails. Everybody knows the classic gin-tonic, but there are many more.

Cocktails are often shaken, so when you order a gin cocktail, you might want to request it to be stirred instead.

More Downsides To Shaking Your Gin

An up-close view of three bottles of alcohol. From left to right: Bombay Sapphire gin, Diplomatico Rum, Hendrick's gin.

As if shaking your gin wasn’t bad enough already, there are actually a few more downsides to shaking your gin (or shaking in general):

Shaking Your Gin Will Dilute the Drink

When you shake a cocktail, the ice inside the shaker cup will melt quite quickly. This will dilute the drink, making it less strong and crisp. Now, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing, but most people prefer it less diluted.

Shaking Can Cloud the Drink

Clouding the drink is a fancy way of saying that it looks less pure. This is in part because of the dilution, where the gin and water don’t perfectly mix, but also in part of some leftover shards of ice floating around.

Whatever has caused this clouding effect, it does damage the visual appeal a bit.

Shards of Ice Are Left Behind

The shards of ice that are left after shaking your drink will not only have a clouding effect, but they’ll also melt much more quickly. This dilutes the drink even more.

There is one upside to shaking, though. And that is the fact that shaking will often provide you with a colder drink. However, this can be remedied by a vigorous stir.

It will take some more effort, but you’ll have a finer product in the end.

There Really Is No Right Or Wrong

Even though stirring your gin is preferred and the recommended way, there actually is no right or wrong.

This is for the simple reason that taste is subjective. Some will like their gin less sharp, while others prefer its crispy nature.

Personal taste is not something that is right or wrong. Even though many things point in the direction of stirring, shaking can be done as well. It might even be an easier choice, as shaking your drink will be much quicker.

Some Examples Of Gin Cocktails You Want To Have Stirred

The first gin cocktail to come to mind would either be the gin and tonic or the martini. Gin and tonic is a rather easy drink to prepare.

It only requires two ingredients: gin and tonic. You can always spruce it up a little with lime or cucumber, but the base of gin and tonic is already fantastic.

The martini is more of a classy drink. With only two ingredients, gin and vermouth, it’s once again relatively easy to prepare.

However, unlike gin and tonic, this one is much more subject to a proper stir. Tonic has a crisp and fresh scent in and of itself, but vermouth doesn’t, so you really don’t want to damage the crispness of the gin.

Shaken, Not Stirred

This is the famous James Bond line when he orders his Martini. Granted, he orders them with vodka, which is much less volatile, but the same principles apply.

But why does he order his Martini shaken, while stirred is the preferred way? There hasn’t been an exact answer to this, but there are a few suggestions.

While shaking, the drink will become more diluted, which is a pro, seeing that he is at work after all. A diluted drink will also allow for more drinks before you become drunk.

On the other hand, he could also just be messing with the bartenders. Having them prepare a classy drink in the wrong manner is a Bond move.

Final Thoughts

Everyone should drink gin the way he or she wants it, whether it’s shaken or stirred. However, if you usually drink your gin shaken, please give stirring it a try.

All the evidence leads to stirring instead of shaking, ensuring a crisper flavor and intact structure of the gin. 

After you are done making your drink, you may want to know if you have to put gin in the fridge to keep it fresh. Read more about this in our other article.

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