Friday, June 4, 2010

Gel-O Shots for Grownups

There's a tiny bar downtown that specializes in Jello shots. The place seats about a dozen people, and the bartender gives you whatever flavor he grabs out of the fridge. We went in on a lark a couple years ago, and I sampled my very first Jello shot.


Saccharine sweet (probably literally) with a bitter undertone. Everything about it tasted cheap and fake. In my mid-forties, I didn't expect to actually like the kiddie shot, but I never dreamed it would be that bad.

Then last fall I bought nine pounds of frozen pie cherries at the farmer's market. Couldn't use them without thawing the whole shebang, and that process left about a quart of eye-rollingly delicious tart cherry juice. I wanted to use it in something special.

Some kind of cocktail, perhaps? That was when I thought of making a grown up version of Jello shots. The recipe is adapted from the one for fruit juice Knox Blox (or however you spell that), and replaces some of the juice with vodka. So these are a little firmer than regular Jello shots.

Gel-O Shots for Grownups
  • 3 cups tart cherry fruit juice
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin

Sprinkle gelatin on 1 cup of fruit juice and let sit for a couple minutes. Boil the remaining fruit juice, and add to the softened gelatin. Stir until completely dissolved. Allow to cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator but NOT to the point of setting up. Stir in the vodka and pour mixture into shot glasses, plastic Solo cups, or small paper cups.

The reason you let the juice and gelatin cool a bit is so the vodka doesn't evaporate when you add it. If you store your vodka in the freezer you can skip the cooling step and add it right away. It's also a good idea to cover the shots with plastic wrap or keep them in an air proof container until you serve them in order to avoid evaporation.

You can use other flavors of fruit juices and even experiment with the type of alcohol. Rum and blueberry juice sounds good, for example. I'm not sure how well pineapple juice would work, though, since it affects how gelatin sets up. Potato vodka is good (though it can be hard to find -- crazy, since vodka is supposed to be made from ... potatoes). This time I chose mango-pepper flavored Absolut. But whatever kind you use, make it good quality to avoid a bitter aftertaste.

These aren't the kind of things we keep around the house all the time, but tonight we're having a potluck barbecue where I'll pass them around the patio.


  1. I don't think I've ever heard of jello shots before, but yours sound interesting.

    Thoughts in Progress

  2. No sugar? That makes it qualify as diet food, right? Interesting idea.

  3. These look like fun...much more appealing than the artificial-everything Jello. I might give them a try this summer. What did your guests think?

  4. When I served them at least half my guests had never heard of them, but everyone liked them. And no, Pat, they aren't all that sweet.