Column One: Yes, 007: a Martini should be shaken, not stirred

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THE COCKTAIL had to be shaken, never stirred. Now, it appears, James Bond's insistence on the preparation of his favourite drink had a scientific rationale. Researchers have found that a Martini that is shaken is better for the heart than one that is stirred.

The drink that epitomised 1960s glamour and became 007's trademark has a more potent anti-oxidant effect in its shaken than in its stirred state, scientists from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, found.

The anti-oxidant properties of alcohol are thought to be the reason why moderate drinkers have fewer heart attacks than teetotallers. The anti- oxidants in the drink mop up free oxygen radicals in the blood which can cause the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries - a problem never apparent in James Bond.

The scientists compared shaken and stirred varieties of Martini, a cocktail of gin and vermouth, for their capacity to deactivate hydrogen peroxide - a plot line that seems to have escaped Bond's creator, Ian Fleming. The shaken drink worked best - but, disappointingly, the researchers were unable to discover why.

Reporting their findings in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal, Colleen Trevithick and colleagues say that vermouth is a stronger anti- oxidant than gin but the combination is more powerful than either separately.

Leading barmen contacted yesterday by The Independent were sceptical of the scientists' claims. Salim Khoury, who has been mixing cocktails in the American bar of the Savoy Hotel, London, for 31 years, said the only effect of shaking a Martini - with ice - would be to dilute it.

For the perfect Martini mix a measure of gin or vodka with the merest dash of vermouth - some barmen say you should simply open the bottle over the glass - straight from the freezer. Serve with an olive, twist of lemon or silver skin onion.