Please don’t bruise the gin

Tags:,,,, — Filed under:Cocktails — posted by Ardenstone on 2007/8/27 @ 3:29 pm

Martini 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:

  1. To “bruise” the gin is a lovely phrase for the results of shaking instead of stirring a gin-based cocktail, usually a martini.
  2. While the phrase it lovely, it doesn’t really mean much. To whit:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
  3. 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.

m4s0n501

8 comments »

  1. What about other gin-based cocktails such as pink gin? Should we avoid bruising the gin in something like that? I ask because I am debating whether to have a second pink gin as I sit up and wait for the lunar eclipse tonight.

    Comment by AE — 2007/8/28 @ 12:49 am

  2. Pink gin is often made (although not by me) without using any ice at all (sometimes chilling the glass). This scares the bejesus out of me, especially in our temperate climate. I can’t deal with the concept of flavored, lukewarm gin.

    Anyhow, as with all these rules, I’d say break them as your heart (and tongue) prefer. I have shaken a pink gin or three, but I typically make them by stirring.

    Comment by Ardenstone — 2007/8/29 @ 12:01 pm

  3. My phil – more water “bruises” or otherwise adulterates the gin. There is no equivalency of short shaking vs long stirring for chill factor when gin, vermouth, and glasses are kept in the freezer (my freezer will freeze gin solid if left overnight). After pouring ice cold vermouth over ice, then straining it back out into the sink, the stirring of ice cold gin over ice is just to “wipe” the vermouth off of it. Eh Voila – a cold cloud martini with, as you say, full liver destructing power.

    Comment by MCW — 2008/4/9 @ 1:47 pm

  4. I also got here by searching for “bruise gin.” Apparently it’s an important subject.

    I was wondering if maybe the extra water from shaking allows some of the gin’s flavor molecules to ionize than would have been otherwise?

    Comment by Mr. Mack — 2009/3/25 @ 9:36 pm

  5. Bruising is basically a word that pertains to meats or fruits, sometimes vegetables. All are still edible, but the flavor and texture (flavor more with meats, texture with fruits and veggies) does change. I believe it is this concept that is applied to ‘bruising’ of various spirits. I have even heard of it applied to scots whiskys as well.
    And, just as some prefer their single malts with a splash and others not, I believe the same applies to gin.

    Forget whether it can be proven or the ‘science’ behind it, its a personal preference. Me, I like my malt whisky with a splash of still water, and my martini with no water – so stirred, not shaken. (But I also like it ‘extra dry’ – just THINK about the vermouth.) However, I don’t drink cheap liquors – life is too short. THAT may make a difference. I’m sure I’d prefer a $12 dollar-a-bottle gin martini to be shaken.

    Comment by Reverend dave — 2009/8/8 @ 6:23 pm

  6. I’ve been bartending for over 20 years. When it comes to a vodka martini, I shake the ba-jesus out of it. The colder the better. I also have customers that love their Safire (sp) martinis “freezing” not for nothing. But, as bartenders lets not assume. Lets ask our Customers how they want their dring. Hell. These are the folks that are paying our bills. NO?

    Comment by Tessa — 2010/7/23 @ 7:07 pm

  7. I also found your site using the “bruise gin” search, or a derivation thereof. I can’t remember. I have an 8 month old baby who’s not sleeping and I’m drunk/hungover most of the time. So it’s hard to tell what I’m doing right now let alone 5 minutes ago. Anyways, James Bond drinks vodka martinis. Read the books. Bruising, whether actual or philosophical, is something true gin martini drinkers can experiment with. I don’t care if you can bruise vodka maritinis. In the words of someone, they “might taste like pumpkin pie, but I wouldn’t know…”.

    Chin chin!

    Comment by Alex — 2010/9/30 @ 11:01 pm

  8. Actually, laboratory studies have been done on shaking versus stirring. Shaking causes a higher level of oxidation in the liquid. This actually releases some chemicals from the drink itself and increases the level of antioxidants. Oxidation may also alter the way the gin/vodka tastes just as it does with wine. Personally, I can’t stand the use of the phrase “bruising the gin”. If you were ever privy to how much sloshing around occurs during transport and shipping of a gin bottle, the whole “bruising” idea seems quite ridiculous!

    Comment by Tom — 2012/2/23 @ 11:33 am

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