Sub-par Jell-O shots made with not enough booze are a crime against edible alcohol. But overly boozed, watery Jell-O messes aren’t much better. The perfect Jell-O shot requires the perfect balance of gelatin and ethanol. For years, that ultimate ratio has alluded party hosts—until now. After hours of tireless experimentation, we discovered the golden ratio of alcohol level to gelatin for the best, booziest Jell-O shot.
General wisdom stipulates that a 1-to-1 ratio of room temperature alcohol to boiling water is the limit of Jell-O shots. We started there, testing that ratio with several types of booze to see if ABV levels affect the outcome. We tried three different liquors: 80-proof whiskey, overproof (63 percent ABV) rum and 192-proof Everclear. Then we started upping the ratio of liquor to water—using the whiskey (to test standard ABV levels) and Everclear (to test extreme ABV levels)—to see just how boozy we could make our shots.
While, theoretically, you could push the experiment further by using unflavored packets of gelatin or calcium acetate, that would yield something close to napalm. So we decided to stick to corner store, cherry-flavored Jell-O.
Here, the results of our Jell-O shot experiment.
Equal Parts Spirit to Water, with Varying ABVs
We mixed two ounces of each spirit (80-proof whiskey, overproof rum and 192-proof Everclear) with two ounces of water to make the base for these Jell-O shots. While all three shots solidified properly, their palatability varied greatly.
Whiskey: The whiskey-spiked cherry Jell-O tasted like sweet cherry moonshine. This was the best of the batch, offering a solid control group. It was boozy Jell-O at its best.
Overproof Rum: The rum and cherry failed on the flavor front. It simply tasted like a strong shot of rum.
Everclear: This high-ABV shot came out surprisingly solid. While it didn’t taste quite as good as the whiskey shot, it was certainly effective.
Verdict: ABV has no effect, as long as you keep the ratio of booze to water 1-to-1.
Whiskey Beyond One-to-One
Here’s where things got interesting. While upping the booze levels beyond a 1-to-1 ratio uniformly eliminated any cherry flavor, the texture of the shots varied wildly depending on the spirit and the amount. To help these shots solidify as much as possible, we left the boozier mixtures in the fridge overnight to see if more time made any difference in helping the Jell-O come together.
2.5 oz whiskey-to-1.5 oz water: This was the only over-boozed preparation that solidified in just four hours (the standard chilling time recommended on Jell-O packages). It was slightly loose, but not noticeably watery. If you’re looking to overclock your Jell-O, consider this ratio for your next party.
3 oz whiskey to 1 oz water: This mixture was only semi-Jell-O-ed four hours later, but a night in the fridge did wonders. By the next day, the 3-to-1 whiskey concoction was mostly solidified, with just a light layer of liquid coating the giggly semi-solid. Definitely a shootable Jell-O shot, but not the most appetizing an option.
3.5 oz whiskey to .5 oz water: This was the only whiskey mixture that completely failed to solidify. While it could still be taken as a standard shot, we don’t recommend it.
Everclear Beyond 1-to-1
It turns out that ultra-high ABV does start to affect Jell-O’s structure when you exceed the standard 1-to-1 ratio. While a mixture of 2.5 oz Everclear and 2 oz water did gelatinize somewhat after a night in the fridge, the higher ratios remained liquid no matter how long we let them chill. And that one semi-solid solution was straight up horrible (though one unnamed Supercall staffer was way too into it). Consider any super high-proof liquor restricted to the standard 1-to-1 ratio.
Verdict: If you’re looking for a tasty Jell-O shot, try one of our tiki-inspired creations. If you’re looking for a stunning Jell-O shot, try our jiggly fruit salad. But if you’re looking for the ultimate boozy Jell-O shot that pushes the boundaries of edible alcohol, go big with the 1-to-1 Everclear.