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Food/Nutrition Columnist Author: Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN, Food & Nutrition Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Vodka Martini – Shaken, Not Stirred

By Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN, Food & Nutrition Columnist -
Apr 30, 2017 - 7:51:21 AM

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( - James Bond, the famous 007 British spy from the novels by Ian Fleming made this catchphrase famous. Three physicians in England undertook an analysis of Bond’s drinking habits and published their results in an informative, but somewhat tongue-in-check paper, published in the British Medical Journal. Vodka martinis are traditionally stirred not shaken, so Bond’s request was at best somewhat odd, but it held through all of the 12 books the researchers read.

Their conclusion was that Bond could not have stirred his famous vodka martinis because of persistent shaking due to alcohol induced tremor making it more socially acceptable to ask for his drinks “shaken, not stirred.” In fact, after combing through the 12 novels and noting every time Bond drank, the researchers determined that 007 drank more than four times the advisable maximum alcohol consumption for an adult male.

In the UK, a standard drink is defined as containing 8 grams of ethanol (pure alcohol). Bond drank up to 92 standard UK drinks a week or 736 grams of alcohol. He drank over 80 ounces of alcohol each week! Many studies have shown that people generally underestimate how much alcohol they actually drink by as much as 30%. If that were the case with 007, Bond’s alcohol consumption could be as high as 113 ounces each week or close to 16 ounces a day. At that rate it is doubtful that he could perform his noted daring deeds or the sexual escapades that made him famous. It is also very likely that he would be in the highest risk group for liver damage, cancer, hypertension, heart disease and depression. In Moonraker Bond reflects that he will probably be killed before 45, the mandatory retirement age of the 00-section of MI6. His risks of developing serious pathologies by that age are most assuredly high.

In the US we define a standard drink as one containing 14 grams of ethanol. That would equal 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits such as vodka, rum, gin or tequila. It is recommended that men drink no more than 2 drinks a day, 1 for women and 1 for those over age 50. Women and older adults process alcohol from the body more slowly and the effects can be greater and last longer.

For those who for health, religious or personal reasons do not wish to include alcohol in their diet, recipes should not be prepared without it. There is a long standing urban myth that alcohol used in cooking burns off. This is not the case. As much as 85% of the alcohol added to a recipe may remain after cooking. How much alcohol is left depends on many factors – cooking temperature, size of the pot, cooking time, and the presence of other ingredients. Breadcrumbs, for example, can soak up much of the alcohol and prevent it from evaporating.

The USDA’s Nutrient Data Laboratory calculated the percentage of alcohol left in a recipe after different cooking methods.

· 85% of alcohol remains when added to boiling liquid and then removed from the heat

· 75% of alcohol remains when a recipe is flamed, think Cherries Jubilee or Baked Alaska

· 70% of alcohol remains when a food is soaked in alcohol overnight

· 40% of alcohol remains when a recipe is baked or simmered for 15 minutes, at 30 minutes 35% remains, and at 1 hour 25% still remains

· Even after two and half hours of cooking 5% of the alcohol has still not evaporated off

Keep in mind that alcohol also has calories, 7 calories per gram. So the extra alcohol in a recipe also adds extra calories.

What should you do when a recipe calls for alcohol and you don’t wish to use it? You can substitute equal amounts of the following. 

· For white wine use white grape juice or apple juice

· For red wine use red grape juice or cranberry juice

· For port wine, rum, brandy or sweet sherry use apple juice plus 1 teaspoon of vanilla

· For each tablespoon of bourbon use 1 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla

· For beer use apple cider or broth

© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of 30 books. Available as eBooks from iTunes and Kindle/Amazon:

Diabetes Counter

Calorie Counter

Protein Counter

Healthy Wholefoods Counter

Complete Food Counter

Fat and Cholesterol Counter

Available in print from Gallery Books:

Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd Ed.

Your Complete Food Counter App:

For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to:


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