Published June 27, 2012
The 4th of July is all about the parties. On rooftops, porches and patios everywhere, Americans are firing up grills in preparation for our country's birthday, serving up tasty food and, of course drinks.
Instead of sipping on microbrews, expertly mixed cocktails or fine bottles of wine, why not bring a bit of nostalgia to the celebration with Jell-O shooters. These vodka-soaked squares of gelatin are all grown up since your college days and have morphed into tasty treats of sophistication.
It's true, the Jell-O shooter is back with a vengeance. The molecular mixology craze combined with the push among many higher-end bartenders to use fresh ingredients and find new and unique takes on cocktails have driven them to mine the bizarre world of gelatin. But no longer are these the day-glo concoctions found in the dixie cups of yore. No, these are made with the greatest of care, freshest of ingredients and with a sense of fun and whimsy that even the most demented frat boy intent on whipping up a batch of pina colada Jell-O shots would be hard pressed to match.
And best of all, they're available in bars and restaurants across the country, not to mention easy enough to whip up in your own kitchen.
The Gin & Tonic
Perhaps the quintessential summer drink, it was almost inevitable that this classic was mixed into gel form. And who better to do it than Michelle Palm, the woman who wrote the book on Jell-O shooters, literally. The author of “Jelly Shot Test Kitchen,” Palm has made a habit of translating a wide variety of cocktails into jiggly forms. Starting with a blog, she documented her search for gelatinized inebriation and eventually scored a book deal, where her catalog of boozy snacks is photographed to perfection. The blog continues on as well, her friends enjoying the fruits of her experimentation far too much to allow her to stop. Not that Palm minds, saying, “I'll keep posting recipes as long as people have an interest, and probably for a good long time after that. It's terrifically fun.”
The Watermelon Shooter
While Palm wrote the book, the Internet abounds with how-to's on mixing up your own gelatin libations. Thom Scher, director of marketing for wikiHow.com, is justifiably proud of his site's catalog of slippery shooters. While the site features everything from caffeine Jello shots to Easter egg Jello shots, one of the most popular versions, according to Scher, is, “a simple and delicious treat that's a step up from a normal college shooter,” using muddled watermelon and premium vodka to take a familiar fraternity treat and turn it into something special.
The Mo & Rita Shooter
Under normal circumstances, Cosmos and Margarita's only go well together in the most drunken imaginings of sorority sisters. But at the Capiz Lounge in South Boston's Seaport district, the cocktails share space in deliciously jiggly jelly forms. The bar's manager, Casey Carney, offers up a tasty take on the classics.
Packed with sweet anise and the bizarre flavor that is Red Bull, this multi-step beast is more than a little difficult to make, but the results are worthwhile. The gummy textures and over the top flavor are worth a trip to Vegas, or at least some significant time invested in the kitchen. And who hasn't wanted to say they've actually made Red Bull Jello?