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Photos: Amazing Microscopic Views of Italian Cocktails

Alcoholic art

Alcoholic Art

(Image credit: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica)

Despite the beauty of Campari (seen here) and other alcoholic beverage crystals, Cesare's favorite subject is rocks. Some are particularly challenging. Sedimentary rocks like calcite and dolomite, for example, create dull images. However, he and his colleagues have developed ways to get color from these stones in a project called DolomitiArtRock.

Split the difference

Split the Difference

(Image credit: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica)

Campari crystals appear red on the left and purple on the right due to differences in orientation and thickness. Polarized light creates brilliant colors without post-processing of the images.

Sea grass, or drink in a glass?

Sea Grass, or Drink in a Glass?

(Image credit: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica)

Feathery crystals of Campari pop in red and green in this image by geoscientist Bernardo Cesare. The Italian beverage proved sugary enough to create complex crystals that Cesare could photograph using polarized light.

Limoncello snowflake

Limoncello Snowflake

(Image credit: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica)

That's no ice crystal – it's Italian geologist Bernardo Cesare's mother-in-law's homemade limoncello. The drink, a favorite in southern Italy, is made from lemon zest soaked in spirits and then mixed with simple syrup. Simple syrup, of course, is quite sugary, meaning that when drops of limoncello dry, they form beautiful sucrose crystals.

Limoncello up close

Limoncello Up Close

(Image credit: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica)

Homemade limoncello looks like a map of a Norweigan fjord under the microscope. Crystals from the sugary drink are revealed by polarized light.

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Stephanie Pappas
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.