Cocktails & Spirits

Can a Gin and Tonic Repel Zika Mosquitoes?

With the Zika virus on so many minds these days, people are feverishly trying to control the mosquito population by spraying pesticides and getting rid of standing water. 

In addition, to ensure those nasty, virus-carrying bloodsuckers don't snack on our tender bodies, Miamians have taken to using Off! as our new cologne and wearing long pants and turtlenecks in the middle of a South Florida summer. Don't even try to find a citronella candle at Home Depot!

Maybe we should all just relax and have a nice gin and tonic. This classic cocktail was invented in the 1700s for British army officers in India as a way to entice soldiers to drink their quinine. The quinine in the tonic was an effective antimalarial and used in tropical regions. Soon the drink became a popular summer cocktail around the world. 

It was also found that the quinine in tonic water also served as a direct deterrent to mosquitoes. Though it sounds like fake science, the United States Department of Agriculture backs up this claim. In an August 2014 study, quinine worked like deet or citronella to repel mosquitoes:

Scientists discovered that three sensory cells were activated in the hair. One cell was activated by salt, a second cell was activated by sugar, and a third cell was activated by either quinine or the insect repellents tested, including DEET.

Of course, tonic water now is mostly carbonated sugar, with only trace amounts of quinine. But if you're going to have a cocktail anyway, make it a gin and tonic just to be on the safe side. 

Here are the best three G&Ts in Miami. Drink up!
Ultimate Gin and Tonic at Bar Centro at SLS Hotel South Beach
Master chef José Andrés' favorite cocktail, this rendition of G&T includes your choice of gin, accompanied by a host of aromatics such as juniper berries, verbena, lemon, and lime ($18). 
Gin and Tonic at AC Hotel Miami Beach
The AC Hotel offers a bespoke gin-and-tonic experience. For $11, choose from several gins, tonics, and accompanying fruits and botanicals. Spirits guru Jennifer Massolo curated dozens of gins for the bar that include dozens of small-batch artisan spirits and pairs them with Q tonic. If you're overwhelmed by choices, consider ordering from the gin-and-tonic menu, which includes the "Wild West," made with Ransom Old Tom gin and Q tonic.
Gin-and-Tonic Social Hour at the Traymore Hotel
If you're looking for a classic G&T on a budget, head to the Traymore's Gin Bar for its daily social hour. From 5 to 7 p.m. and again from 10 to 11 p.m., a classic G&T, made with your choice of Fever-Tree or Imperial tonic, costs only $6. The elegant art deco bar also offers handbag holders for the ladies and complimentary olives and nuts to ensure you have an elegant evening at a bargain price.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss