The Martini Mystery: What’s the secret message in Shaken Not Stirred?


I cannot guess the size of the Venn Diagram overlap of cocktail enthusiasts and codebreakers, but it’s safe to say it includes alcohol historians Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller.

One evening (it could have been afternoon) I was enjoying a drink (or two) at Comstock (that part is beyond dispute). In conversation with bartender Zach, I mentioned attending a talk that Jared Brown had given at Cafe du Nord in his capacity as a distiller of Sipsmith Gin.

“He’s stopped in here before, and he left a message in one of our books,” said Zach (who may have said something entirely different, but this is the gist). “Want to see it?”

I did!

Brown signed Shaken Not Stirred: A Celebration of the Martini (one of many books Comstock keeps handy at the bar) and left a breadcrumb:


Why, then, let’s head to page 224.


Oho! Brown was dropping clues all over the book, and it appears to relate to a martini-based pictograph.



Can the code on page 224 mean anything but “cheers”? But even with the ubiquitous E known the code is not so easy to crack. I don’t note any other Cs — but perhaps the angle at which I held the page is to blame. I believe the third word from the end on page 131 is “three.”

Guesses welcome.

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