Though I am known far and wide for my loving and varied experiments with Jell-O, I had only once made the ridiculous frat party treat known as Jell-O Shots. As far as I recall that was in 1991 for a luau at my friend Shannon’s house, where we also had a limbo contest and between the two, nobody was left standing. I also recall they were only marginally tasty, (but that didn’t stop us from pounding about a gross of them) and that you had to consume about 8 to get the equivalent of one drink, and also that your hands and cheeks became sticky with the stuff. These details aside, when I was recently asked to bring Jell-O Shots to a party, I was not one to shy away from a dare. And so I did – and we partied like it was 1991!
The basic idea with Jell-O Shots is to dissolve the Jell-O with boiling water as you normally would, but then replace the cold water with booze. If you tone that down a little, adding only about ¾ cup booze and the rest water per batch, you attain the most pleasing taste, though the shots are then quite mild. I imagine at frat parties and spring break ALL the water is replaced by booze, but that is just too revolting for me to contemplate. I do strive for class at all times, even when partying like an 80s college kid. [Carolyn Wyman’s great book from 2001: “Jell-O a Biography” reports that the Smithsonian’s food curator confirms these (not surprising) origins.]
I present two variations here: one is lime Jell-O with vodka (why I wasted good Jell-O I’ll never know, especially as I don’t like vodka and that is really all you taste) and the other is black cherry with vanilla rum (which is, happily, actually quite tasty!) and there are really almost endless combinations you could come up with, between flavored liquors and the mixing of Jell-O flavors. So folks, the next time you find yourself having a mid-life crisis, or are the subject of a dare, mix up some Jell-O Shots and party!
3 oz Jell-O 1 cup boiling water ¾ cup rum or vodka ¼ cup cold water
Dissolve Jell-O powder in boiling water, stirring well. Add cold water and alcohol and stir again. Cool to room temperature and pour into individual mini-cups and chill until firm, about 3 hours. Makes about 16 shots.