Straw That Stirs The Drink Meaning
(idiomatic, almost always preceded by the) The person who stimulates or inspires a group; the major factor affecting a trend or set of developments.
Example: 1977 May 26, Dave Anderson, "Reggie's woes," Star-News (North Carolina, USA), p. 7D (retrieved 19 Oct 2012):
Reggie Jackson . . . apparently presumed his charisma would assume command of the clubhouse. . . . " I'm the straw that stirs the drink," Reggie Jackson is quoted by Robert Ward in Sport magazine. "It all comes back to me."
1993 Dec. 7, Jonathan Fuerbringer, "Credit Markets: Bond Prices Continuing to Rally," New York Times (retrieved 19 Oct 2012):
"We have priced in 4 percent growth in the fourth quarter . . . ," said Alan Levenson, money market economist at UBS Securities. "Growth is the straw that stirs the drink."
2009 Dec. 31, Michael Avila, "Top 10 â€˜geekâ€™ movies of the decade," NBC News (retrieved 19 Oct 2012):
[T]ake a bow, pop culture enthusiasts. You are now the straws that stir the drink. Geeks rule!
2010 March 15, Josh Levine, "The Turbulent Times of Formula One," Time:
[H]e's still the straw that stirs the drink. Ecclestone alone makes the big TV, sponsorship and track deals that keep F1's cash gushing.