It’s that time of year, when the Frost Giants and Yeti are more likely to be seen, and the Bheur Hags seek components for new Graystaves. In our D&D campaign, the common folk bunker down, hoping the cold weather passes with little consequence and the Orglash will retreat with the spring.
A Season for Partying…. not just the D&D kind!
In this realm, we party(it’s funny because party is a D&D term!) It contributes to less D&D time, but it’s worth the sacrifice. My favorite offering to the party gods is a tray of Jell-O shots. And this has become the thing for which I am known. Showing up to parties without my tell-tale tray of shots elicits the same, sad response from most party goers.
I don’t always host the big events, and in an effort to store and transport, sometimes, hundred of shots, I have tested many trays and finally found the perfectly sized container for the standard Jell-O shot. Albertsons, the local grocery store, carried this tray. It is the 3rd container I’ve tried as the first two didn’t quite have the optimal height:length:width ratio for storing the round cups I use. Immediately after buying the perfect tray for Jell-O Shots, I threw away all the tags because that is how I do.
Elevate your Jell-O Shot (and D&D) Game
Now… Jell-O Shots are fun at their foundation, but I like to bouge mine up to an elevated level. Coming up with thematic names and trying to assign them to relatable flavors or colors is a fun way to do this.
I also build cute name tags for each flavor combo and put them on a ribbon. My office is full of stacks of cheap holiday (& D&D) scrapbooking paper that I cut into medium and small rectangles, and then stack up to make frames for the drink titles.
A standard hole punch was strong enough to punch two holes in the edges of the tray, and on the tags, so I could tie a ribbon from side to side of the tray with the tags attached like bunting.
Even the most basic of Jell-O Shot configurations (flavor+vodka) are kitschy and fun, and the tags and ribbons showcase my Martha Stewart Aspirations, but my favorite part is naming and designing the flavor profiles for each shot batch.
I like to pair classic flavors, based on cocktails – Lime and Tequila is great, lemon and whiskey is really good, plain vodka & rum both go with most flavors. Flavored vodkas and rums also taste amazing with some Jell-O flavors.
For our 2019 Christmas party, here are my creations:
Mistletoe Kisses: Lime + Tequila + Salt sprinkled on top
Blue Christmas: Blue Raspberry + Dragonberry Rum
Jingle Bells: Lemon + Vodka
Mean Mr. Grinch: Jolly Rancher Green Apple + Caramel Vodka + Red Heart Candy Garnish
Holly Jolly: Cherry + Fireball Whiskey
Twinkling Lights: Clear Knox Gelatin made with Apple Cider + Moscato + christmas colored sugar sprinkles on top
They are strong. Full stop. Everyone will give you a super light recipe, which circles around 3:1 water to alcohol. Don’t ever talk to those people again. Block them on all social media, they don’t give good advice.
For this party I used the smaller boxes of Jell-O that call for 1 cup boiling water, 1 cup cold water. Now since the original posting, I have experimented further with stronger shots, using the Science Of Jell-o Shots article. I like to use a 4-cup glass measuring bowl and experiment with how little hot water I can add while still dissolving all the powder. It comes down to about 3/4 cup boiling water. Then replace all cold water with alcohol of choice, in any mix. As pointed out in the above article, jell-o has a lot of lee way to stretch with alcohol, so if the recipe calls for 2 cups of liquid overall, you can probably get about 2.5 cups out of the box. This means if you are using 3/4 cup boiling water, you can add 1 3/4 cups alcohol.
You could do a full 1 3/4 cup vodka, or 3/4 cup blue curacao and 1 cup vodka. It depends on how fancy you want to get really. Let’s be honest. It’s very hard to mess them up. If they are too runny, they are easy to drink! Usually you can see definitive jelling by the 30 minute marker, but some of these took noticeably longer. Especially my Knox shots.
Knox brand gelatin gives bad advice (for Jell-O shots) on the box, in that they didn’t intend for such delinquency to be associated with their brand. Our Party likes Jell-O to be jiggly. Over the summer I tried some Knox to experiment with pina colada flavors and when using the instructions on the pack, we got a thick, biteable consistency. You could hold them between two fingers. This put me off a bit and I have tried to stick with pre-made Jell-O Mixes.
However, this season I tried again with my Twinkling Lights shots to test the viscosity. My first experiment tasted bad. This was the shot itself, the viscosity was amazing. This was using boiled water + cold Moscato and it really just enhanced the bitterness of the sparkling wine. I spite ate them.
For my second attempt I used sparkling apple cider. Since Knox is so thick I increased the liquid content. After dissolving/blooming one pack in 1.5 cup Moscato, I stirred in 1.5 cups boiling apple cider. It took a bit longer to set up than normal because of the water:gel ratio. About 30 minutes in, I started to worry because there was no sign of jelling. I sprinkled some sparkles in anyway and continued making the easier shots. I didn’t quite time it, but eventually it jelled up and when I sprinkled more sugar on top they stayed on top. The moscato I used was Mia Dolcea Moscato, which is very sweet. Its profile includes many fresh fruits, including peach, pineapple, & apricot with a few, sweet, floral notes like jasmine and Honeysuckle. The apple juice kept these sweet flavors in the forefront of the shot.
Twinkling Lights Review
As a side note – delicious. They have literally 0 booze burn. However, Mia Dolcea always sneaks up on me, and the sweetness covers a lot of the alcohol feel, which usually leads to over indulgence and the worst hangovers I’ve ever had.
When mixing shot-tails, Remember that fresh juice with bromelain in it will also mess with viscosity. These include Pineapple, Kiwi, Papaya and Figs – they will prevent Jell-O from setting up. Processed juice does work though. I used bottled pineapple juice in my pina colada shots and they gelled real hard.
Sometimes I like to add a little food color or edible glitter, sugar sprinkles or salt.
Food color/edible glitter: I dissolve it in it’s own little half cup of alcohol, whatever I am using for the cocktail. After putting the Jell-O into the cups, refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes, then swirl in some of the colors.
Sprinkles or sugar hearts: Drop them in somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes
Salt: I usually sprinkle it on top around the 45 minute mark – it is meant to be on top, so really you can do them after letting them reach maximum density.
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