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Shaken, not stirred: bioanalytical study of the antioxidant activities of martinis

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 18 December 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1600
  1. C C Trevithick, research assistant,
  2. M M Chartrand, research assistant,
  3. J Wahlman, research assistant,
  4. F Rahman, research assistant,
  5. M Hirst, professor,
  6. J R Trevithick, professor (trevjohn{at}
  1. Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C1
  1. Correspondence to: J R Trevithick


    Background: Moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks seems to reduce the risks of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cataracts, perhaps through antioxidant actions of their alcohol, flavonoid, or polyphenol contents. “Shaken, not stirred” routinely identifies the way the famous secret agent James Bond requires his martinis.

    Objectives: As Mr Bond is not afflicted by cataracts or cardiovascular disease, an investigation was conducted to determine whether the mode of preparing martinis has an influence on their antioxidant capacity.

    Design: Stirred and shaken martinis were assayed for their ability to quench luminescence by a luminescent procedure in which hydrogen peroxide reacts with luminol bound to albumin. Student's t test was used for statistical analysis.

    Results: Shaken martinis were more effective in deactivating hydrogen peroxide than the stirred variety, and both were more effective than gin or vermouth alone (0.072% of peroxide control for shaken martini, 0.157% for stirred v 58.3% for gin and 1.90% for vermouth). The reason for this is not clear, but it may well not involve the facile oxidation of reactive martini components: control martinis through which either oxygen or nitrogen was bubbled did not differ in their ability to deactivate hydrogen peroxide (0.061% v 0.057%) and did not differ from the shaken martini. Moreover, preliminary experiments indicate that martinis are less well endowed with polyphenols than Sauvignon white wine or Scotch whisky (0.056 mmol/l (catechin equivalents) shaken, 0.060 mmol/l stirred v 0.592 mmol/l wine, 0.575 mmol/l whisky).

    Conclusions: 007's profound state of health may be due, at least in part, to compliant bartenders.


    • Funding Except for MH and JRT, all staff on the project were summer students supported by Work Study, Canada Manpower, Youth Opportunities Unlimited Ontario, and by grants from Labatt Breweries to MH and JRT Corby Distilleries provided samples of gin and vermouth.

    • Competing interests The research grants from Labatt Breweries were used for a portion of the laboratory supplies, a portion of expenses incurred by CCT, MMC, JW, and JRT in attending the conference of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (1999), and a portion of the expenses of MH in attending the fourth international conference on toxicology in developing countries (1999).

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