Alcoholic drinks under the microscope

They look more like modern works of art than anything that has come out of a science laboratory:

But these striking and colorful images are actually samples of alcoholic drinks that have been magnified up to 1000 times under a powerful laboratory microscope.Capturing the molecules that make up our favorite drinks like vodka, rose wine and tequila, the pictures were taken in Florida State University’s chemistry department.
Produced by American firm Bevshots, they are on offer as art works for buyers who appreciate the hidden beauty of cocktails.


The images are made by first crystallizing the drink of choice on a lab slide. Using a standard light microscope with a camera attached, the light source is polarized and passed through the crystal. This creates the magnificent colors we see in our favorite drinks.

Each image is created by using a pipette of each particular drink and squeezing a drop onto a slide. Then the droplets are allowed to dry out and the slide is placed under the microscope and a picture is taken. It can take up to four weeks for the alcohol to dry out completely in an airtight container, and the whole process can take up to three months.

Cocktails can have fruit and soft drinks in them which contain citric acids and complex sugars which dry out well and look great photographed. The incredible shapes and colours of the boozy artwork are highlighted by shining natural light on top and through the bottom of the slide.


– In 1992, a research scientist named Michael Davidson stumbled upon a genius idea right under his nose – literally. In his 25 year career through the many facets of microscopy, he had taken photographs under the microscope of a collection of items – DNA, biochemicals and vitamins

– Looking for novel ways to fund his Florida State University lab, Davidson decided to take his microphotographs to businesses for possible commercial opportunities. While presenting his pictures to established retail companies, one necktie manufacturer changed his creative direction with just one word – cocktails

– With this new direction, Davidson took his microphotography a step further. Along with mixed drinks, he picked out a few favorite brews and wines too, took some shots of the beverages under his microscope and the Molecular Expressions Cocktail Collection was born. The drink-donned neckties were top shelf from 1995 to 2002, and now his images are available as framed prints with BevShots.


Rose wine: The distinctive pink hue is rather a red herring in this sample as the colors in the image reflect the different levels of absorption of the light after it has passed through the sample, not the wine’s original colour. White wine would probably look much the same at this range (Caption analysis by Dr Ellen Friel, Science Programme Manager, Royal Society of Chemistry)

Whisky: The deep amber color of the whisky comes from the barrels it is matured in – where much of the chemistry of whisky takes place

Vodka: The globules are possibly due to the dissolved solids in the drink, sugar in this case. There are less colours as there tends to be less oily flavour components in vodka because it is distilled and run through charcoal to purify it and take these out

Dry martini: the streaks could be due to higher levels of essential oils or possibly due to tannin like compounds which give rise to its bitterness

Tequila : Much darker probably either due to the high levels of fructose in the tequila from the agave plant or possibly high levels of essential oils also from the agave plant


American Hefeweizen

American Ice Lager

American Lager

Australian Pale Lager

Black and Tan

Black Russian


Bloody Mary



Coffee Liqueur

Cosmopolitan Martini


English Pure Brewed Lager



Irish Stout

Japanese Dry Lager

Japanese Rice Lager



Pina Colada






Vodka Tonic


White Table Wine


White Russian

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *