All photos by Ted Axelrod
OK, I’ve had it. I’m sick of wearing thick wool socks, sick of stews, sick of ordering bourbon just to get warm. I’m pining for going out without a hat and gloves, entering the house without tracking in a scrim of sand, putting the car windows down and tall, cool cocktails with ice cubes. It’s mid-March, for gods sake — isn’t it supposed to be somewhat spring-like by St. Patrick’s Day?
I know what you’re thinking: You moved to Maine; don’t complain. But we’ve heard plenty of longtime Mainers grouse about this seemingly endless winter with its multiple snowstorms and day after day of bone-chilling temperatures. If this was our baptism by cold and snow, we got the message … and the yaktrax. Enough already.
We can’t change the weather but we can do a little attitude adjusting. We’ll just pretend it’s warm enough to wear shorts and sip G&Ts by indulging in a a few harmless fantasies in the kitchen. No, no, not THAT kind of fantasy … the culinary kind. Can we use the word “culinary” when it comes to jelly shots? Why not, it’s our fantasy, after all.
Before you shake your head, forget all about those Dixie cups of vodka and orange Jello you had in college. We’re talking sophisticated jelly shots in cocktail “flavors” like mojito, negroni and Pimms cup. Our inspiration comes from the book, “Jelly Shot Test Kitchen: Jell-ing Classic Cocktails – One Drink at a Time,” by Michelle Palm.
These tasty little morsels have a lower alcohol content than their frat-party cousins, and most are simple to make. Palm has helpfully noted whether each recipe is “easy,” “intermediate” or “advanced,” and as long as you have the ingredients and a few basic pieces of equipment, you should be able to master any of them. You can get all fancy with silicone molds and exotic garnishes, but to get started, all you need is a metal loaf pan, a sharp knife, and a small offset spatula.
The gimlet jelly shot is delicious and a good one to start with. It’s traditionally made with gin, but you could, of course, substitute vodka. Especially if you’re John Golden (Portland Press Herald restaurant critic and author of The Golden Dish blog; his famously standard drink is a vodka gimlet).
2/3 cup lime syrup (see recipe below) or Rose’s lime juice
2/3 cup water
2 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup gin
green food coloring
lime zest for garnish
Combine the lime syrup (or Rose’s) and water in a medium saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Allow the gelatin to soak for a minute or two. Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is fully dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the gin.
Pour half the mixture into a metal loaf pan and place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to quick-set. Check often to avoid freezing. Pour the rest of the gelatin into a glass measuring cup and set aside.
When set, remove the pan from the freezer and rack the gelatin with a fork until small, uniform globules form. Use the fork to distribute the globules evenly in the pan.
Pour 2/3 of the gelatin mixture in the measuring cup over the raked gelatin. Add a drop or two of green food coloring to the remaining gelatin. Use a teaspoon to drop spoonfuls of the tinted gelatin into the pan at regular intervals.
Transfer the pan to the refrigerator to chill until set, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into desired shapes with a knife or cookie cutter.
1 ½ cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
4 medium limes, each cut into 8 wedges
¼ cup Rose’s lime juice
Combine water, sugar and limes in a medium saucepan. Muddle the limes. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain immediately. Stir in the Rose’s lime juice. Allow to cool to room temperature.