Can good music improve your G&T?

We’re all familiar with the idea of pairing drinks with food, but pairing with music? Pete Brown tells us how to pick the perfect soundtrack for a STRYKK NOT G*N & Tonic.

We all know the main organ in your body that perceives flavour is the mouth, right? How could it be anywhere else?

Well, it’s not that simple. About 80% of what we perceive as flavour is picked up in the nasal cavity. But all the mouth and nose do is detect chemical compounds and convert them into electric signals. Ultimately, we perceive flavour with the brain.

We may have landed men on the moon, split the atom and invented the Pot Noodle, but the workings of the human brain are still largely a mystery to both scientists and philosophers. They’ve only really started figuring out how taste works in the last twenty years.

Of course, you don’t need a degree in neuroscience to enjoy a finely-crafted cocktail. But knowing a little bit about how flavour works (or seems to) can really enhance your enjoyment.

One of the simplest, yet most surprising and rewarding ways of doing this is pairing your drink with the right kind of music. Get the music perfect, and it doesn’t just enhance the experience of drinking, it can even change the taste of your drink. So when STRYKK asked me to share some of the secrets of successful pairing, I could hardly say no.

Think about the finest drink you’ve ever enjoyed. Picture it in your mind. Got it? Good. If you’re like most people I’ve spoken to – myself included – you might be thinking of a holiday, or some kind of special celebration. you can remember the weather, the view, the people you were with. You can probably remember the type of drink it was. But can you remember the specific brand, or describe the taste?

Our most memorable flavour experiences are all about context. You could taste the most amazing thing ever to pass your lips, but if you drink it in front of the TV on Tuesday night watching Married at First Sight Australia, it’s probably not going to make much of an impression.

Music is all about creating the right context. If you listen to music at all, you probably play different music to dance to than you chill out to. If you have a playlist for the gym, I’m guessing there’s not much on there that also features on your soundtrack to a romantic, seductive dinner for two.

Scientifically controlled experiments have proved that the ‘right’ music can enhance the taste of the ‘right’ drink. If I said ‘light and spritzy’, or ‘heavy and bold’, you could probably imagine both styles of music and different drinks that both fit that description. Guess what? Pair like with like, and your perception and enjoyment of the flavour of the drink improves. Or at least, your brain thinks it does.

So how would that work with the reigning monarch of mixed drinks, the Gin & Tonic?

The STRYKK NOT G*N & Tonic, perfect at any time of year, is particularly wonderful in late spring and early summer. Its fresh botanicals and crafted reputation speak to the sophisticated side of summer, of linen suits and summer dresses. It’s a drink for throwing open doors and windows, for terraces, verandas, balconies and decks.

Far from the novelty singalong hits of the holiday bar, this calls for mellow grooves, languid rhythms and slick production. Try Cool Jazz, Acid Jazz, Trip-Hop or Memphis Soul to smooth out that crisp bitterness and heighten the grassy, herby botanicals.

Even writing this on a bitterly cold afternoon in March, I swear Massive Attack’s classic Blue Lines with a generous STRYKK NOT G*N & Tonic made the sky turn blue.
Pete Brown
Pete Brown

Pete Brown is an award-winning British food and drink writer, broadcaster and consultant. Author of twelve books, he blogs at petebrown.net and is @petebrownbeer on social media.


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