Few things scream party as loudly as jello shots. They're great icebreakers to get the party started, and are tasty enough to get a night of drinking really going. Here are a few tips and some other useful information from the kitchen that can help you make jello shots you and your drinking buddies will love.

The Universal Proportion

The most widespread proportion of jello shots is as follows:

  • 3 ounces of Jell-O or other gelatin
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) of boiling water
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of a spirit of your choosing
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup of cold water)
  • This would get you roughly 16 1-ounce shots

You can keep the same ratio and just multiply it depending on how big of a batch you want to make. It's worth mentioning you shouldn't fill the cups up to the very top - it can only make things messy.

close up aerial view of a red jello shot

The Making Process

This is the not-so-tricky part. The trickiest part of the equation is patience.

  1. Mix the two half-cups of water and alcohol together and put the cup in the fridge. If the idea of diluting perfectly good alcohol sounds ludicrous, it's mainly to make the flavor of the shot a little less concentrated.
  2. Put the Jell-O in a big bowl, big enough to comfortably mix all the ingredients.
  3. Add the cup of boiling water and start stirring until the gelatin is completely dissolved. The idea is to make it liquid enough to mix in with the alcohol.
  4. Add the cold mix of alcohol and water and stir some more.
  5. Optional: you can add some food coloring to intensify or change the mix's color (or give it one to begin with if the gelatin happens to be colorless). Either way, this step is optional.

Once you've covered all those steps, put the bowl in the fridge until the mixture sets. You need to leave it for at least 2 hours, though the bigger the batch, the more time it requires. It's best to leave it overnight, so if you're making these for a party, plan ahead.

The Spirits

While technically no spirit is off limits (it's a party, after all), some might mess with your recipe, and not in a fun way. To keep things simple, colorless spirits are universally acceptable because they won't mess with the final color of the Jell-O shot. We'll get to color experimentation later; let's talk about flavor.

If you want the gelatin's flavor to stand out, you need a flavorless spirit like vodka, or something plain and sugary, like rum. Again, there are various ways to spice things up, but even the best boxers start with the one-twos before learning combinations.

You would almost never use spirits with distinctive and awkward flavors like whiskey, brandy, or even gin, for that matter. Think of Jell-O shots like gummy bears rather than an overly-sophisticated chocolate cake. Don't lose your way. You want to make a universally accepted shortcut to joy people can take together instead of a fancy mixture for some snobby bartending competition.

close-up of people toasting with green jello shots

Almost Any Flavor And Concoction

Here comes the best part. Since Jell-O comes in all kinds of flavors, you can do a lot of experimentation with your jello shots. Even the simplest creation - let's say strawberry gelatin with vodka - will do the trick, but you can also take it up a notch or several. The most straightforward "upgrade" you can do is intensifying the gelatin's flavor with the alcohol. For example, you can add a kick to a strawberry Jell-O shot with strawberry vodka instead of a flavorless brand. You can apply that same rationale practically any flavor.

Then, you can do simple experimentations. Think of Jell-O shots like cake or ice-cream - you can translate any of your favorite combinations into them. Use gelatin for the primary flavor and the alcohol as the secondary.

And for those with a flair for bartending, you can replicate almost all fruity or party cocktails into miniature, cuter versions. For example, Daquiries, Margaritas, Sex on the Beach - these are all perfect. Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, and basically any cocktail you might see in _Mad Men _or imagine yourself sipping in a subdued cigar bar - not so much.

The key is to maintain the cocktail's proportions. For example, if you are doing a Margarita Jell-O shot, you want to put 3 parts tequila to 1 part triple sec to two parts lime juice, mixed with lime gelatin. If there's a gelatin flavor which obviously goes with the respective cocktail - like lime for Margarita - great. If not, just use unflavored gelatin and basically think of it as a replacement for the sugar part of the original cocktail. Again, you can spice things up and make cocktail variations. Using strawberry gelatin with the Margarita ingredients is a perfect example.

To make quality Jell-O cocktail shots, there are a few tips you need to adopt like second nature because they are actually essential for making quality Jell-O shots, period.

rows of red, green, and orange jello shots

Tips And Rookie Mistakes

Simple as the Jell-O shots may be, messing up any of the preliminary steps might cost you not just time making them, but time you could have spent drinking them.

  1. One of the most common rookie mistakes you can make is to get too carried away with alcohol. Drinking responsibly aside, which should be central anyway, it will ruin your shot. Too much alcohol content makes jelly impossible to be... well, jelly. This is why you have to stick to the proportions mentioned above.
  2. When making cocktails, you will need to employ your math skills. Since 3 ounces of jelly go with 4 ounces of an 80-proof spirit, you'll need to make your cocktail's alcoholic content amount to that, whether it involves 1 or 10 alcoholic ingredients. You have to check the proof of each liquor you're using and do the math. One ounce of 80-proof vodka equals two ounces of 40-proof liquor, for example. The Jell-O shot's alcoholic content can even be less, but more will make the substance mushy.
  3. Another tip that can make all the difference is pre-tasting. Before you put the mix in the fridge, taste it. If it's too sour or acidic, you can add some simple syrup or sugar, and likewise, you can balance the overly-sweet with some lemon or lime juice.
  4. The presentation is also not to be overlooked. You can use fruit peels as cups, you can put cherries in the mix, even draw something with syrup once the substance is set.

Layering

To make truly eye-catching Jell-O shots your party guests won't forget, try layered shots. Similar to the shots above, layered shots are easier to make than they are pretty, which says something. Again, patience is the name of the game. You should approach this exactly as if each color was a separate shot. The only difference is you would refrigerate each shot in the cup rather than all in the bowl, although the latter is also doable. Count how many colors you need and pour the respective amount - if you need 3 colors, you fill 1/3 of the cup, etc. Then you put the cup in the fridge. Once the liquid has turned into jello, add the next layer slowly - you can touch a spoon to the side of the cup and use it to slow down the stream.

close-up of honey being drizzled onto a spoon

From there, your imagination is the limit. You can make some seriously impressive combinations which will stun your friends before they even drink them. Again, all you need is time, patience, and some info. You already got one of three covered. The rest is up to you.

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