How about gelatin shots as a treat for Valentine’s Day? Use unflavored gelatin and other drink ingredients to turn your favorite cocktails into solid form.
The alcohol-free version, Jell-O Jigglers, uses Jell-O for flavor and color; and engendered the return of a very old recipe—popular among young ladies in the 1860s, popular among all youth in the 1980s and beyond.
For the record:
Jell-O shots are made with Jell-O and alcohol. The flavor comes from the Jell-O; alcohol is substituted for one-third to one-half of the cold water. Any spirit can be used; vodka and tequila seem to be in the majority of recipes.
Gelatin shots or jelly shots are made with unflavored gelatin. Spirits and other flavorings are added to emulate a cocktail or punch.
Jell-O Jigglers are made with no alcohol: just Jell-O made with much less water, promoted by Jell-O in fun shapes, although jiggly cubes are fine.
THE HISTORY OF JELL-O SHOTS
Many of us think of Jell-O shots as the creation of fraternity culture in the late 1980s. But the first published recipe is more than 100 years older: alcoholic punch turned solid with gelatin. You can find it in the original cocktail recipe book published in the U.S.: Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide of 1862. You can still buy it (reprinted) on Amazon.com.
That recipe used generic, unflavored gelatin. Thanks to some pretty crafty sleuthing on the part of JelloShotRecipe.Blogspot.com, you can see a photocopy of the first known recipe for a molded gelatin-alcohol combination.
They may have been forgotten by the cocktail culture, but in the U.S. Armed Forces in 1950s, they were made as a subterfuge to consume alcohol on the alcohol-restricted Army bases.
The brand of flavored, colored gelatin called Jell-O was invented in 1897. Marketed as a light dessert, the product’s success began to wane in the 1960s; by the 1980s the company needed to revitalize the brand.
The marketing team pored through older cookbooks and discovered what they renamed Jigglers, adding new excitement to the brand with the fun-shaped finger food snacks.
The fun molds created for Jell-O Jigglers charmed children. The concept enticed teens and young adults to add alcohol to the Jell-O and call them Jell-O shots. Simple squares cut from a baking pan sufficed.
Back in 1862 Jerry Thomas advised: “The strength of the punch is so artfully concealed by its admixture with the gelatine, that many persons, particularly of the softer sex, have been tempted to partake so plentifully of it as to render them somewhat unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper.”
Refined ladies of the time could not be seen downing drink after drink, but the “gelatine punch” nibbles had the same effect as they have today (a.k.a., “drunk on Jell-O shots).
MODERN JELL-O SHOTS
Today, Jell-O shots are made in baking pans and cut into squares or fingers; made in theme-shape ice cube trays (hearts, stars, shamrocks, etc.), garnished with edible glitter, coated in hard chocolate, tiered in two or three colors, embedded with berries or cherries, and so on.
You’ll find endless recipes on line. Note that many, like the one immediately below, are made with plain gelatin as opposed to Jell-O; and are thus technically gelatin shots.
RECIPE #1: COSMOPOLITAN JELL-O SHOTS
Eat your heart out, Carrie Bradshaw! Other people are enjoying their Cosmos in solid form—and they’re spill-proof.
We adopted this recipe from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.
Prep time is 20 minutes plus setting in the fridge; total time 4 hours.
1-1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
2-1/2 envelopes plain gelatin
1/4 cup Rose’s lime juice (or preferably, fresh lime juice with a half teaspoon of simple syrup)
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
3/4 cup orange flavored vodka
Garnish: 1/4 cup lime zest
Ingredients For 32 Pieces