Back in 1869, the great Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev noticed periodic trends in the properties of the elements that he was studying. Mendeleev realized that by identifying these trends and charting elements according to their electron configurations and recurring chemical properties, he could not only make the relationships between different elements more intuitive but actually predict elements that had yet to be discovered. In a very real way, the Periodic Table of Elements is the first great infographic.
The Periodic Table of Alcohol is what Mendeleev might have come up with if his penchant for studying chemical cocktails was overwhelmed by his thirst for alcoholic ones.
Recognizing that college students love nothing more than drinking themselves into a stupor, the Periodic Table of Alcohol was commissioned by Best Colleges Online as a promotional tool ahead of the back-to-school season. “Our client has an audience composed of college students,” says designer Mayra Magalhães of Area 42. “Many of them have drinking habits, but they often don’t know much about what it is they’re drinking.”
The Periodic Table of Alcohol, then, is less of a checklist every frosh needs to make their way through before spring break, and more of an informational chart that borrows the design language of the classic Periodic Table to educate college students about booze. Instead of groups determined by atomic structure, the Periodic Table of Alcohol determines groups by base: cider, mixed beer, wine, tequila, brandy, whisky, rum, and gin. Instead of an atomic number, the Periodic Table of Alcohol has an ABV. It’s delightfully quasi-scientific.
Although not every cocktail is represented, Magalhães and her team drew the cocktails included in the chart according to the most popular cocktails amongst college students. That perhaps explains some of the Periodic Table of Alcohol’s strange gaps: It omits absinthe-based cocktails entirely, and classic cocktails like the Scofflaw are missing in favor of swilltails like the Black Velvet.
Still, the Periodic Table of Alcohol isn’t meant to hang behind the bar of the Clover Club. It’s a primer for young adults starting their education in the world of cocktails, who might not yet know that they prefer whisky-based cocktails to rum-based ones, or that flunitrazepam is not traditionally used as a mixer in Manhattan. And if you think college students should be studying instead of drinking, well, hey, isn’t mixology really just a delicious, debilitating chemistry lesson in its own right?