Used in small amounts, gelatin can also make fluids springy, wobbly, syrupy and viscous. You can even use gelatin to thicken all but the strongest alcoholic drinks. If you're looking for an adult twist on a classic Jell-O, gelatin can can give you a colorful treat with a little extra kick.
Jello to Gelatin
Gelatin is rich in collagen, a naturally springy protein found in animal skin and bones. The chewy texture of gummy candies and the wobble factor in a good Jell-O dessert comes from gelatin. For cooking, gelatin usually comes in very thin transparent leaves or in granule form. Both gelatin granules and sheets will work for creating Jell-O shots or thickened alcoholic drinks.
You can use gelatin to thicken drinks of up to 40 percent alcohol, according to specialist food retailer Molecule-R. That means that if you try to use a 65 percent bourbon, the gelatin may have a limited effect. Spirits such as vodka and rum mixed with a little fruit juice are good options for thickening with gelatin. Remember that the listed "percentage proof" on a bottle is twice the value of the alcohol by volume. So, a 60 percent proof spirit has an alcohol content of 30 percent.
Softer the Better
Before adding to alcohol, gelatin should be softened. Otherwise, you could end up with stringy, bitty pieces in your drink. Softening simply means leaving the gelatin sheets to soak in cold water or the alcoholic drink for around five minutes. If you're using gelatin powder, you can skip the softening process and add straight to the alcohol mixture. Add a small amount at a time while stirring gently to get the right thickened consistency.
Mixing the Drinks
Alcohol heated at high temperatures tends to evaporate. Where possible, mix the gelatin with alcohol at a low heat or at room temperature. You don't need a lot of gelatin to make a decent batch of gelled alcohol. For example, a BBC recipe for champagne jelly suggests using 4 gelatin leaves for every 16 oz. of champagne. Use fewer leaves or less powder to keep the drink thick but not set.
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.