Drink the Book: Old Fashioned Jelly Shots Recipe

Drink the Book: Old Fashioned Jelly Shots Recipe

[Photographs: Amy Webster & Michelle Palm]

It's easy to reimagine light, fruit juice based drinks as jelly shots, but what about more serious cocktails? For my first foray into the world of Jelly Shot Test Kitchen I decided to tackle a classic, the Old Fashioned, to see how it would fare in jelly form.

While the Old Fashioned is definitely a not a beginner's cocktail, it does have a hint of sweetness, making its transition into a jelly shot a bit less mind-bending. The recipe starts with a sweet Bitters Syrup: a mix of sugar, water, and lots of Angostura. A packet of Knox gelatin is added to the syrup along with a few spoonfuls of maraschino cherry juice and simmered until the gelatin dissolves. In order to keep the integrity of this boozy cocktail, the bourbon is stirred in once the mixture has been taken off of the heat. Poured into a shallow pan and left to chill for a few hours, your Old Fashioned Jelly Shots hardly take any more time than mixing one up on the rocks.

When it's time to serve, you can certainly get creative with cookie cutters and crazy shapes, but since this is such a classic cocktail, you can stick with an understated square garnished with slivers of orange and maraschino cherry. While the texture is pretty wild, the flavors of these Old Fashioned Jelly Shots are spot on, with sweet cherries and caramel-like bourbon and a hint of aromatic biters.

As always with our Drink the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Jelly Shot Test Kitchen to give away this month.

Adapted from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen by Michelle Palm. Copyright © 2011. Published by Running Press. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:18 to 24 jelly shots
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:4 hours


  • 2/3 cup soda water
  • 2/3 cup Bitters Syrup (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
  • 2 envelopes Knox gelatin
  • 2/3 cup bourbon or scotch whiskey
  • Orange slices and maraschino cherries for garnish, if desired
  • For the Bitters Syrup:
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 9 tablespoons Angostura bitters


  1. 1.

    To make the Bitters Syrup: Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until mixture boils, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

  2. 2.

    To make the jelly shots: Combine the soda water, bitters syrup, and cherry juice in a small saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Allow the gelatin to soak for a minute or two. Heat over very low heat until gelatin is dissolved, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the whisky, stirring well to blend. Pour into pan and refrigerate until fully set, several hours or overnight.

  3. 3.

    Cut the orange and cherries into small slivers for garnish.

  4. 4.

    To serve, cut the set gelatin into desired shapes and garnish as desired.