Introduction: Fluorescing Gin & Tonic

Picture of Fluorescing Gin & Tonic

Tonic water contains quinine, a fluorescent alkaloid. Put some in the path of a UV light, and you'll see a beautiful bright blue beam. You can create fantastic effects in a gin & tonic with a UV keychain flashlight - serve some up at your next party, or just take along the flashlight next time you go out, and order a G&T (you'll soon find out if you've been served a gin & soda instead - it won't work!).

Note: you'll see this effect any time you have a tonic-containing drink under a blacklight. See How to Make Edible Glowing UV Reactive JELLO, for example.

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients

You'll need: Gin ~ tonic water ~ lime ~ ice ~ UV LED keychain flashlights

I bought the flashlights from DX as "UV Money Detector LED Flashlight Keychain 10-Pack" for $5.24. Allow a couple of weeks for them to show up. You can buy them at the dollar store, too.

Step 2: Build & Serve

Picture of Build & Serve
Add ice to a clear, pattern-free glass. Add gin & tonic in about a 1:6 ratio (they're usually stronger, but here you want good volume and plenty of quinine for best effect). Garnish with a slice of lime. Make one for each guest. Note: a virgin (no gin) version might need some Sprite or similar to sweeten it up a bit for that crowd. 

Give one to each guest along with the UV LED. Once everyone's set up, switch off the lights. They'll figure out what to do next :)

Enjoy! Video shows what you can expect. You'll get 99% of the effects in the first 30 seconds, so no need to watch the whole thing.

I skipped the lime and ice for this demo. The ice causes condensation on the glass makes the picture a little fuzzy, at least on screen. However, don't skip it when you try it - you get additional effects shining the light down through the ice.

If you liked this drink, you might enjoy The Color-Changing Martini.
Other drinks involving tonic water and blacklights can be found in the ebook Shocktails.


AriG4 (author)2015-12-29

That's amazing! Looks like Nuka Cola Quantum from Fallout!!

makendo (author)AriG42016-01-01

I will take your word for it :)

tinker234 (author)2012-02-25

wow this is non alchoholic right also for the light you could use led taplights mod the lights to use uv leds from ebay

The gin used for this instructable is 94 proof, so no, it is an alcoholic beverage.

chanara (author)2011-10-10

Watch out Heston, Makendo you're amazebomb!

ilpug (author)2011-08-06

this is great... i have been inspired!

rsingh3 (author)2011-05-25

I cant wait to try it! But do you really need all the other stuff if the glowy part is in the tonic water? Also will the LED keychain flashlights they have on work for this? Or do I have to go to amazon or something? Thanks!

makendo (author)rsingh32011-05-25

You only need the tonic water and a UV keychain flashlight. You can buy them at the dollar store. Have fun!

lemonie (author)2010-06-12

Quinine is useful for other things too...


abigail-nicole (author)lemonie2010-06-16

but I doubt you can put that in a gin and tonic, the two alcohols not withstanding

lemonie (author)abigail-nicole2010-06-16

I think it's "bloody-expensive", and probably wouldn't improve the taste either...


scoochmaroo (author)2010-06-11

Cool! Now to build glasses that have a light shining up through the bottom that goes on when you set them down. . .

92033 (author)scoochmaroo2010-06-12

Use LED lighted plastic Ice Cubs in the drinks as described below. Ironically, I have a pair of bottom lighted glasses as you suggest. They were made by Geni Ware Company many moons ago. Don't know if they are still in business...this was 30 years ago. :-) Uses small battery and twist on switch at bottom to turn on the light.

zvillesurfer (author)scoochmaroo2010-06-11

lol or waterproof that keychain thing so you can drop it right in your drink.

92033 (author)zvillesurfer2010-06-12

Use LED lighted plastic Ice Cubes sold in Novelty Shops and various catalogs.

makendo (author)scoochmaroo2010-06-11

Or the UV version of the disco coaster... groovy, man

Javin007 (author)scoochmaroo2010-06-11

And now I know how they make those funky drinks on Stargate/Star Wars/Star Trek!

About This Instructable




Bio: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture
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