Today is a milestone in that this website officially saw it’s two millionth visitor who found us by searching for “bruise gin”. Now, these fine enlightened visitors are obviously attempting to make (or have made for) themselves a fine martini. They’ve already taken the first important step and decided the martini will be gin. I like them already.
Frankly, I’m a little hesitant to post this at all. The topic of making a “shaken vs. stirred” martini has been covered in loving detail by Robert Hess who has long been one of my favorite online cocktail explorers. He even talks about “bruising” the gin in it.
However, I have done a little firsthand research over the years, and I’d sum it up as:
- To “bruise” the gin is a lovely phrase for the results of shaking instead of stirring a gin-based cocktail, usually a martini.
- While the phrase it lovely, it doesn’t really mean much. To whit:
- There is some claim that juniper berries are delicate and, since they’re a prominent ingredient in gin, rigorous shaking causes them damage. If you are ever served gin with juniper berries floating in it, this is a valid concern. Otherwise it’s a delightful delusion.
- By shaking you break off more ice into the martini than by stirring, thereby altering the flavor. This actually is kind of true in that shaking adds more ice, and therefore more dilution, per second than stirring. Unfortunately, you probably stir for longer to achieve the same cooling of the gin. I’ve tried and I can’t taste the difference, and I’ve never seen anything other than anecdotes to say anyone else can.
- By shaking the gin you add air bubbles which changes the taste (since they get in the way of the martini hitting the tongue). Again, the general consensus is that this just isn’t the case. Now the air bubbles do have one positive effect: it increases the antioxidants thereby making the drink healthier. I have no argument for this save an incredible respect for the University of Western Ontario.
- There is probably no taste reason to avoid shaking a martini. There may or may not be a difference in the texture of a shaken versus stirred martini (many of us have, after the second or third martini, sworn that stirred sits heavier on the tongue. It’s possible we were inebriated.) but assuming there isn’t, then why do all the martini snobs want their martini’s stirred? Because it looks better. Bubbles in a martini (or a delicious manhattan) look amateur and certainly don’t signify the dignity and pure, liver-destructing power that the majestic drink deserves. And if you’re not paying attention to the presentation of cocktails, you’re missing half the fun.
So, if you’re making me a martini, please don’t bruise the gin.