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The Plural of Gin and Tonic

gin%26tonic.jpgSo, it's summertime and time for one of my favorite seasonal drinks - the gin and tonic. I like mine with crushed ice, 1 part Bombay Saphire Gin, 3 parts tonic water, a squeeze of lime, with the lime wedge garnish on the rim.

But as I was getting ready for a party my girlfriend, Heather, and I got into a discussion as to the proper plural for said drink. To my way of thinking what I am having is a gin which is augmented by the tonic water therefore the proper plural would be "gins and tonic."

But Miss Lake counters that a "gin and tonic" is a discreet unit. It is the name of the drink, therefore the proper plural would be "gin and tonics."

The internet is no help.

The Wikipedia entry is no help since it doesn't list the plural one way or the other.

The Everything entry gives one person's opinion, but it seems less than definitive.

As far as the democracy of Google, "gins and tonic" only gets 1,920 hits where "gin and tonics" gets a whopping 145,000 hits, making "gin and tonics" the popular choice.

Amusingly enough, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, a Catholic priest, has a blog entry on the same issue, so maybe we can have some ecumenical dialog over the topic.

Opinions? Snarky remarks?


From the priest's blog comments:

"Scotch & waters, black & tans, whiskey 7s and whiskey sours (remember those?), B&Bs, G&Ts, gin & tonics—they all refer to mixtures. As such, it’s the single mixture that becomes plural, not one or another of the ingredients."


'“And” isn’t a preposition (and “tonic” is not an adjective!), so I would say that it is “gin & tonics.” If the singular were “gin with tonic,” then I would say that the plural would be “gins with tonic.”'

Besides, I've got the Google vote on my side. Clearly, I win.

has gin and toni been suggested yet?

I'm with Heather on this. It's a single entity...when you look at your glass, do you really think of it as two separate things? Can you separate the two visually or even by taste? If you could, I think you might be able to make your case more plausible, but even then you're on shaky ground because you have a heck of a lot more tonic water in there than gin. If you couple your basic linguistic argument with the actual composition of your drink, it's the tonic which is clearly more deserving of being rendered plural by sheer volume. Plus, "Gins and tonic" seems to imply that you are mixing multiple types of gin with a single brand of tonic, which you probably aren't under most circumstances.

But what do I know? I'm allergic to alcohol anyway. :-P

G&Ts. Like RBIs.

Gins and Tonics. Then you're safe all around.

Gin and Tonix -- my new metal band.

(The fact that you can debate the issue means you haven't had enough gins yet).

Sisters-in-law, attorneys general, shovels full: There are examples of things that are made plural by putting an "s" on the first word.
I could see either argument. I like the google search method. It's the voice of the people.

To my way of thinking what I am having is a gin which is augmented by the tonic water

If that were the case, you'd be having "gin with tonic", or "tonicked gin" or some such creature; and in that case it would be clear that "gin" is the main noun, and "with tonic" serves as a sort of adjective describing what sort of gin you're having. Just as "in law" describes a sort of mother, and "in chief" describes a sort of commander.

But the moment you describe your drink as a "gin and tonic", you've elevated the tonic to the status of a partner in the drink, rather than a mere garnish or enhancement; you're using it as a noun rather than as an adjective, and so the whole thing needs to be pluralised.

Happy to see that this whole entry has been cited on Grammar Cops.

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