We’ve finally come to the final, and probably most important, contentious, and difficult edition of Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Taste. Does Shaking change the taste of the Martini?
I’ve been scratching my head trying to develop an effective and simple taste test for Shaken vs. Stirred: Taste while eliminating the differences due to temperature, dilution, and ‘bruising’. Recall that for this article we consider bruising to be the emulsification of the Martini from shaking. See Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Bruising for details.
Here’s what I’ve done. I’ve prepared two dry Martinis (i.e., Gin) using 1 1/4 oz. of my favorite Gin. Each was mixed with 20 ice cubes, one shaken for 10 seconds and one stirred for 45 seconds. Then put in identical glasses and placed in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. By doing this I’ve removed the variable of temperature. I mixed the gin for different times in the hope of removing the variable of dilution. (I didn’t quite succeed, the shaken Martini contained a bit more drink, so it was a bit more diluted.) Finally by allowing the two glasses to sit I’ve allowed the emulsification to dissipate thereby removing the variable of ‘bruising’.
So which ‘won’?? Hold that thought for now…. Lets start with a couple of facts. First, taste is a combination of sensor receptors on the tongue (taste receptors, or buds) and in the nasal cavity (olfactory epithelium). There are also secondary conditions that affect taste; e.g., temperature, texture, and ‘heat’ / spiciness.
Second, taste is a function of “chemistry”. By that I mean that the body (tongue, palate, mouth, and nose) detects various molecules, ions, chemicals, and compounds and sends signals to the brain which interprets the information as ‘taste’.
Therefore to declare that Shaking a martini changes the taste we must infer that Shaking changes the martini’s chemistry. Is that possible? Well, it appears that may be the case. I did an extensive bit of research (thank you Google) and found the following.
The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario conducted a study to determine if the preparation of a martini has an influence on its antioxidant capacity. They found that the shaken gin martinis were able to break down hydrogen peroxide and leave only 0.072% of the peroxide behind, versus the stirred gin martini, which left behind 0.157% of the peroxide.*
I should also note that the above is the only “citeable” bit of evidence I found anywhere. Everything else was subjective. Which brings up the question; is a difference of 0.085% (0.157 – 0.072) peroxide detectable?
Of all the posts, blogs, editorials, and opinions I have read, none provided any solid evidence of the taste changes – in Gin. A few reported subtle changes in cheap Vodka martinis – something about cheap vodka being made from potatoes which leave extra oils in the liquor.
The few ‘side by side’ reports I found noted how one method made the Martini colder or weaker or cloudier. But not a difference in taste.
Which leads us back my experiment: so which tastes better? To be absolutely honest, I couldn’t taste any difference. I went back and forth repeatedly, even rinsing my mouth between tastes. The stirred martini was just a tad stronger, but it didn’t taste different. That is surely due to the slightly greater dilution of the shaken Martini. I will certainly try this again adjusting the mixing times and possibly adding straight gin as a third option. I’ll keep you informed.
Draw. I could not taste a difference. Nor can I find documented evidence of a taste difference in Gin anywhere in the googlesphere. Please send me any links to such articles if you can find them.
* Hirst, M.; Trevithick, J. R. (18 December 1999). “Shaken, not stirred: bio-analytical study of the antioxidant activities of martinis”. British Medical Journal 319 (7225): 1600–2. doi:10.1136/bmj.319.7225.1600. PMC 28303. PMID 10600955. Retrieved 2006-04-12.