Congratulations to Una Clancy and Michael Stringer from University of Edinburgh on receiving an honourable mention in our festive competition calling for imaging-inspired cocktails featuring SINAPSE’s own ImaGin, with the entry below:

Bloody small vessel gin (Bloody SVG)

40ml ImaGIN
25ml cranberry + raspberry juice
20ml Grenadine (or any red fruit syrup)
25ml sparkling blood orange (e.g. San Pellegrino Aranciata Rosa or Galvanina)
Dash of beetroot juice (optional to enhance colour and for added antioxidants)
5ml lemon juice

Dill (fractal pattern representative of small branching arteries)
Axial slice of cucumber (represents cells that make up the BBB)
Cranberries, raspberries, blueberries
Sugar rim: granulated sugar and beetroot juice
Ice cubes

1. Mix a small amount of granulated sugar with 2-3 drops of beetroot juice in a sealed container, shake vigorously until mixed and then leave to dry. Once the sugar has dried, run a wedge of lemon along the top of the glass to wet it, then dip the rim of the glass into a plate of the sugar and twist until it is coated with red sugar.
2. Place ice cubes in glass
3. Add 40ml of ImaGIN
4. Add 25ml of cranberry raspberry juice
5. Add 20ml of Grenadine
6. Add 25ml of sparkling blood orange
7. Add a dash of beetroot juice, optional to help with bloody colour
8. Squeeze of lemon juice (5ml)
9. Stir well
10. Add garnishes for decoration
11. Voila! One Bloody SVG (small vessel ImaGIN) cocktail


Bloody small vessel gin, Bloody SVG, is inspired by the imaging features and techniques used to study small vessel disease. Cranberry, raspberry and beetroot juice are used both for their colour and high amounts of antioxidants. Dietary factors have been linked with small vessel disease, and antioxidants in particular have been shown to strengthen the blood brain barrier (BBB) in experimental studies. Blood orange enhances the colour further while being a carbonated drink it also adds a hint of carbon dioxide to the mix – the bloodstream conveys carbon dioxide through the body and it is also used in imaging studies to explore cerebrovascular reactivity (how well the blood vessels open/close). A range of preclinical imaging techniques are also applied to study blood flow in-vivo, notably particle tracking velocimetry and two-photon microscopy, where individual blood cells can be visualised – a little like the bubbles.

The garnish is comprised of a glaze based on sugar and beetroot juice, with dill, a selection of cranberries, raspberries and blueberries and an axial slice of cucumber. Dill provides a natural example of a fractal pattern in the distribution of the stems, with the delicate branching pattern symbolising the blood vessels affected in small vessel disease. Imaging of some of the small blood vessels in the brain can be performed using various techniques, particularly at higher field strengths e.g. the lenticulostriate arteries, though examples can also be seen using retinal imaging. The berries are representative of different features seen on imaging including cerebral microhaemorrhages and perivascular spaces. Lastly the cross section of cucumber resembles the epithelial cells which play a key part in regulating the BBB.