I have been fascinated with “Jello Shots” for a long time. No, not your college days orange jello and cheap vodka version, or the jello shots in a lemon or orange rind, but the sophisticated, grown up version that I first ran across on Jelly Shot Test Kitchen. The site is still up and has some gorgeous, tasty ideas, although there hasn’t been a new post in 2013 so I am not sure if it is still active. I believe she has a book out which would be a fun addition to any bartending library, but if you can’t find it run over to her site and print out some of the recipes while you still have a chance.
Getting back to my first foray into the jello shot world, I finally found the perfect opportunity. I was schedule to host Bunco for 12 women at my house. If you aren’t familiar with bunco, it is basically a dice game that requires absolutely no skill and we prefer to pair it with copious amounts of alcohol. It makes for quite an entertaining evening!
My vision for a jello shot was to create something that resembled a lemon drop. Who doesn’t love those right? So I pieced together a bunch of ideas and recipes and came up with this version. Be forewarned: they are strong!
The key to these is that there is no jello involved, but rather a lemon/key lime syrup made from scratch and good old Knox gelatin.
Start by making the syrup, which can be done immediately beforehand or the night before and then allow enough time for them to chill thoroughly and plate attractively immediately prior to serving.
Lemon Drop Martini “Jello Shots”
- 4 large lemons cut into 1/8 wedges – peels on!
- 4 key limes cut into 1/4 wedges – peels on!
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
In a large saucepan, add all of the above ingredients and put on medium heat. Use a wooden spoon or mallet to push down on the citrus as it warms to release all of the juice. Let everything heat through and simmer for a good five minutes once the citrus has broken down and become very soft.
Remove from heat and strain through sieve. I actually strained twice because I wanted a very clear syrup. The second time I put it through a cheesecloth, but this is optional depending on how particular you are.
Creating the Shots:
- 2 cups lemon/lime syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin (or 1 ounce)
- 1 1/2 cups good quality vodka, such as Grey Goose
- 1/2 cup Cointreau
- Raw or granulated sugar
Wipe out the pan you used for cooking the syrup and add 1/2 cup water and 2 cups of the lemon/lime syrup. Sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid and let sit for a few minutes and it will just start to dissolve. Put the pan over medium low heat, stirring continuously until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Don’t get impatient as this may take a while, but you don’t want bits of un-dissolved gelatin ruining your masterpiece!
Once the gelatin is completely and totally dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and add the alcohol. I am going to emphasize the difference of using quality liquor here if you really want to impress. If you are planning to serve to a less discriminating bunch, say your college buddies, by all means use the cheap stuff!
At this point you are ready to pour into any type or container or mold you prefer. I used silicone ice-cube trays that I had lightly wiped with cooking spray. You can also pour into a shallow pan and then cut into cubes or use cute little cookie cutters for fun shapes. (Save the scraps for a treat for the cook!)
Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight, covering lightly with plastic wrap to prevent any sort of skin forming on the top. If cutting with a knife or metal cutter, dip into warm water before making the cut for the smoothest result.
I used serving spoons with mint and lemon peel for presenation. Immediately prior to serving, just the top of the shot with either raw sugar or granulated sugar. The sugar is necessary to offset the tartness of the shot. Baking sugar which was my first choice is too fine to give the impact I was looking for. Some liquor stores also Lemon Drop Cocktail Sugar which would add an extra special touch.
Tell me about your favorite party cocktail or jello shot!