The Martini Cocktail. Stirred, Not Shaken

Well I never. It turns out that James Bond isn’t as sophisticated as I once thought. Indeed, 007’s penchant for martinis ‘shaken, not stirred’ is rather an impropriety among connoisseurs of the beverage - including our host, Mr Duncan McRae - who believe that shaking a martini not only spoils the liquor but, by increasing the surface area of the ice, increases the rate of dilution. Fascinating. What is more, purists maintain that the martini cocktail is made with gin, not vodka, and so the Bond-endorsed vodka martini is scarcely a martini at all (don’t worry, I’m as shocked as you are). Suffice it to say, I will never look at the smooth-tongued spy the same way again.

Yes, this cocktail event was far more informative than I’d anticipated, and I’d like to thank Mr McRae for his enlightened guide through the history of the martini, a drink - as he said - with more associated imagery than perhaps any other. In the role of the benevolent host, McRae delivered his talk with much charm, and he interspersed it with samples of martini variations for all. The samples became increasingly ‘drier’ (which means, as we learned, that they contained less and less vermouth), until the arrival of the ubiquitous dry martini, which - to my ill-educated palette - was almost indistinguishable from ice-cold gin alone.

Sadly, Mr McRae had to rush his talk toward the end, as a result - we must admit - of some error in planning. His rapport with the audience was so strong, however, that nobody seemed much to mind. However, what was agitating with the repeated, almost crass interruption of McCrae by a fellow colleague, who gave the impression that he was envious of the spotlight. Every time this colleague came to serve the martini samples, he would usurp centre stage (metaphorically speaking) but only to act as a niggling distraction.

These minor issues aside, ‘The Martini Cocktail - Stirred, Not Shaken’ was one of my preferred events at the Fringe this year, but we can’t discount the role of alcohol consumption in my enjoyment. Still, however, it was a fitting end to my time at a wonderful venue, and I look forward to seeing what Hendrick’s mix together in 2014. Cheers!

Reviews by Joshua Feldman

Marlborough Theatre

The Room in the Elephant

★★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Both Worlds

★★★★
The Warren: Main House

Animal Farm

★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Brainchild

★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Everything That's Wrong with the Universe

★★★★
The Dukebox Theatre

All Change

★★★

The Blurb

Shaken or stirred? Gin or vodka? Olive or twist? Is the Martini "The King of drinks?" or an amusing antique? The "Silver Bullet" as affectionately known is perhaps the most celebrated cocktail. Join as we trace (and taste) our way through the family tree of this legendary concoction; encountering its most famous ambassadors, adversaries and anecdotes along the way.