The Scientific Reason Gin And Tonic Are Perfect Together

When it comes to cocktails, there's nothing more simple — or more satisfying — than a gin and tonic. Containing one part gin to two parts tonic water (or the other way around depending on the type of day you've had), the drink remains an age-old favorite and forever a perfect pairing. But did you know that there could be a scientific reason behind why these two ingredients taste so good together? According to Thrillist, while sipping on a G&T, your nose, mouth, and brain are wired to light up thanks to the drink's chemical makeup. 

Molecules from botanicals, primarily juniper fused into the gin, and quinine, a bitter compound found in tonic water, are similar in shape. And when molecules are similar in shape, they become attracted to each other and therefore able to mix better. However, there's still some mystery surrounding the G&T. In fact, Matthew Hartings, a faculty member in the department of chemistry at American University, told the outlet that while scientists have some ideas, they're still not completely certain what makes the drink work for many. 

The complexities of the gin and tonic

When explained further, molecules in gin and tonic water form aggregates, and these aggregates, along with individual molecules, float up into the receptors within your nose and mouth, mentions Thrillist. This is where things get complicated. "You're thinking about hundreds or thousands of different molecules in a glass and then the several hundred different kinds of proteins in your nose collecting all those interesting flavors," Hartings said. "And you have to think about how all those molecules interact with one another, how they interact individually with those proteins, and how those proteins interact on a whole with all those molecules at once."

A key takeaway, and what is known about the gin and tonic, is that it's best enjoyed with chilled ingredients (via Epicurious). Carbon dioxide leaves warmer liquids faster, so it's important to pop the gin into the freezer a few hours beforehand and reach for a cool, unopened bottle of tonic water to mix with. So if you're a gin and tonic drinker, there could be reason to believe that there are molecular workings to support savoring every sip. Just try not to overthink it.