Most of us gave up jello shots when they stopped coming loaded with Everclear and toothpicks to scrape the boozy goop out of little bathroom paper cups, which usually [hopefully] coincided with wild college years. However, when I moved abroad to Paris in my early twenties..
(I hope you think I’m going to say that jello shots are a tenacious craze in Paris.. continue pause..)
my American friends and I threw a stereotypical Halloween party for our French friends. We raided the one local shop we heard had Halloween costumes and left with a vampire, a fairy, and a witch getup – you think they had a Silk Spectre costume?! I found exactly one pumpkin and paid 20€ for it. And finally, we decided that we had to have jello shots, to give our French buddies a true feel for the “American experience”. Of course, they don’t have an aisle full of 67 different types of boxed jello there; instead, gelatin sheets were the best I could do. We put a gourmet spin on those suckers, knowing that if we used artificial grape “flavor”, our native friends would spit them out and never return, ever.
Instead, we rigged up several iterations worthy of our more spoiled, less processed friends: lychee raspberry, screwdriver, Jack & Coke (an American tradition!), and coconut lime rum. There was no fridge space, so we let them set on the windowsill during an unseasonably early snow flurry.
They, how-you-say, loved them. I have a picture of me thumbs-upping over the table laid with about 40 of these, but I won’t share. I just.. won’t.
Ever since that experience, I’ve held jello shots dear to my entertaining M.O., knowing that no one can resist their kitschy, slightly sentimental charm when upgraded with adult flavors and booze. The first year O and I hosted a New Year’s Eve party with a Mad Men theme, I ordered a 1960s jello mold from eBay, deeply sanitized it, and filled it with fresh blueberries, vodka, simple syrup, and sparkling water. Our guests sliced this boozy mold with a cake server and raved. The next year, it made sense to try my hand at infusing these jiggly bites with champagne, and that started my New Year’s Eve tradition that I’m now sharing with you!
I wanted to add a bit of fruity flavor to this batch, so I added a few drops of raspberry candy oil by Lorann, but you could totally leave that out.. or replace it with something else. I also added a bit of vodka, knowing that, when diluted with half sparkling cider, the jello “shots” would be quite weak. These will by no means sneak up a drunk on you–they’re still quite weak–and you could up the booze in there if you wanted. The general ratio should be..
1 cup non-alcoholic liquid + 1 cup alcohol + 2 packets gelatin
according to theKitchn. You can play around with how much vodka you use by reducing the champagne a bit. I personally reduced the sparkling cider, because champagne has such a relatively low alcohol content, but if you want a firmer jello shot, reduce the champagne when adding more vodka. You could even replace the candy flavoring with flavored vodka to infuse the shots with a bit of fun flavor. Try peach or orange for brunch-inspired cocktail shots; pomegranate for a chic winter take; raspberry for an almost-kir royale flavor. Whatever you do will be delicious – I guarantee it.
- 1 cup sparkling cider, apple or white grape (or sparkling water, if you prefer)
- 2 packets gelatin (.5 ounces total)
- 3/4 cup sweet sparkling wine, like spumante
- 1/4 cup vodka (or use flavored vodka and omit the candy oil flavoring)
- 4-5 drops raspberry strong candy oil flavoring
- sanding sugars
- special equipment: molds, mini-cupcake tin, or 9x9 or 9x3 pan (line the pan with plastic wrap - smoothed out - you don't want wrinkled in your jello shots!)
- Bring sparkling cider or water to boil. Pour over gelatin in heat-proof bowl and stir until completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
- Stir in vodka and champagne. Sprinkle sanding sugars into the bottoms of your mold. Pour mixture into your chosen mold or container and let chill for at least 3 - 4 hours.
- When ready to un-mold, dip bottom of pan into hot water for 5 seconds. Run a sharp paring knife around the edge of the jello to loosen and flip out onto a wax-paper lined surface (I face a wax-papered cutting board down on my mini-cupcake tin and then flip both over).
- Sprinkle with more sanding sugars and serve. Keep chilled until serving.