The Science of the Ultimate Jello Shot

i-28679cd0ee2f763315e4e2c86346420b-jello shot.jpg When I threw a going-away party for my friend Lisa on Friday, I made some of that jiggly party staple: jello shots! Little did I realize that some awesome (and bored) sciency-types have a website dedicated to a series of experiments to determine how much vodka can be added to jello shots before they lose their gelainous cohesion. The way that I made mine is "the normal way," where you add 1 cup boiling water to the Jello packet, stir for 2 minutes until the mix is completely dissolved, and then add 1 cup vodka (instead of water). This yields jello shots which are not overwhelmingly alcoholic and quite cohesive. But c'mon, messing with the recipe like that made me wanna push it to the limit and find the Holy Grail of jello shots. How much booze is too much?

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The folks at set out to answer this question:

The purpose of this experiment was to determine the highest possible concentration of alcohol attainable in a Jell-O shot, while still maintaining the structural integrity (i.e., the gelling properties) of the gelatin.

To answer this, they systematically added vodka and subtracted water in varying proportions, cataloging the resulting batches' integrity and taste. A few interesting conclusions:

1. The biggest factor for 'gelling' was to completely dissolve the jello mix in enough boiling water. This was determined to be 4 oz at a minimum. Any less would result in a sludge.

2. The maximum amount of vodka you can add, and the jello still will gel, is 19 oz of vodka. Thats right, 4oz of boiling water followed by 19 oz of vodka will still yield a cohesive shot.

3. Said jello shot (the batch with 19 oz of vodka) will taste REALLY alcoholic, the equivalent of doing a pure vodka shot. The happy medium of taste and cohesiveness is around 14 oz of vodka.

4. You can actually get a lot more milage out of a single packet of Jello mix than what is suggested on the box, about one-third more, actually, and still have firm Jello shots. Adding more liquid (in vodka form) doesn't make a huge difference in taste either.

Other wonderful projects this team has undertaken:
Can You Light A Jello Shot on Fire?
How to Nail Jello to the Wall
How to Keep a Halloween Pumpkin From Rotting
Does Viagra Keep Flowers Fresh?

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Brilliant and Beautiful.

By Joe Delahanty (not verified) on 26 Oct 2009 #permalink

When I think of all the regrets that Jello shots have caused me ... clearly I wasn't making them strong enough. Shelly, you clearly are destined for a Nobel Prize.

I'm wondering, have they submitted any of their results for publication? Because I'm thinking that maybe this post should have one of those BPR3 icons on it... :)

That's all well and good, but my idea of a Jello shot is to take a bowl of Jello and a bottle of vodka and simply proceed to dispose of both in a system I like to call "How to Drink Without Looking Cute."

Science at work is a beautiful thing

Any word on vegetarian jelly shots? I'm hanging out for some discovery in that vein, I miss them so much.

Agar agar does not seem to work.

By Matty Smith (not verified) on 26 Aug 2007 #permalink

A trick I learned from my Mom (yes, my Mom) was to use an equal amount of Knox unflavored gelatin to firm up the shots. She actually never made the alcohol-containing ones but I adapted them from her recipe for "Knox blox." I saw that the MyScienceProject gang tried Knox but complained about the lack of flavor. I think that it requires a careful titration of Knox-to-flavored Jello as one gets to higher alcohol content.

To answer this, they systematically added vodka and subtracted water in varying proportions, cataloging the resulting batches' integrity and taste.

Batches? Batches? We don't need no steeeeeenking batches!

Next time just do tequila and lime Jell-O. It's not even remotely scientific, but after the third or fourth round you no longer care.

so, that picture of jello with ramen noodles nailed to a crucifix?

My favorite mix was Malibu Orange Jello shots. Of course we had the obligatory Malibu Pineapple shots and the Cuervo Lime shots as well. There was just something about the rum and scurvy cure that delighted my palate.