We all know 007 likes his Vodka Martinis "shaken, not stirred," but does it really make a difference? This intrepid drinker decided to find out. Plus, it was feeling like an at-least-two-martinis kind of night anyway.
First, nomenclature: I'm of the opinion that simply saying "Martini" implies the use of gin. To use vodka, you should stipulate a "vodka martini." Please don't say "vodkatini." Like, ever. Time was, you called it a Kangaroo, but that's gone the way of unironically wearing a fedora.
Second, recipe. I used Gordon's vodka ("Smoothest! Most Mixable!") and chose a twist of lemon peel for the garnish as opposed to an olive. I figured the olive brine might overpower any subtleties in the tastes of the two methods, so opted for something more delicate.
I did the very dry, "in-and-out" style, with dry vermouth poured over ice in the shaker, stirred, then dumped. This means that only whatever vermouth stuck to the ice and shaker is what ends up in the drink. Then, add 4oz vodka, shake/stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist and squeeze lemon peel over drink, then toss in.
I decided to do shaken first, then stirred. Call it alphabetical.
Visually, not too different. Shaken actually looks a tiny bit clearer, which was surprising.
The lemon oil provides a nice aroma that floats over the drink, but doesn't inform the taste much.
Taste-wise, it's kind of amazing how pronounced the difference was:
The shaken martini is thicker, much like vodka stored in the freezer. While the shaking does make it colder, I almost feel like the resulting thickness of the liquor makes it less refreshing, almost milky. The "edge" of the alcohol is well-softened, though, and the vodka has the faintest taste of the grain it began life as long ago.
The stirred martini is more fluid and water-like, much lighter on the tongue. The liquor maintains a bit of its harshness, making for a very dry drink.
So, for my money, I have decided, all due to respect Mr. Bond, I prefer my "See-Thrus" to be stirred. The chill is adequate, and the crisp dryness of the liquor is maintained, without any of the viscosity that I found off-putting in the shaken version.
So, if you need something super-dry to put a lip over this sweltering summer, Go Stirred!