If Amy Sirois and Tracy Palm ever offer you one of their Key Lime Coladas, definitely say yes. But don’t expect to be actually drinking anything.

Their version of a pina colada is a solid little green pyramid with a white top that feels funny in your hand and squishes in your mouth.

That’s because it’s made out of gelatin.

Sirois and Palm are artistes of the jelly shot genre. The two Maine women are among the legions of foodies nationwide who have elevated a college bar pastime into an obsession that combines a touch of science with a little bit of art — and lots of imagination.

Jelly shots (so called to avoid trademark issues) are a playful brew of gelatin and mixers, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, that are heated, molded, refrigerated, admired for a moment, and then — depending on the recipe — slurped down the gullet with the glee of a 6-year-old at a birthday party or a sorority sister on Saturday night.

These fun little gourmet confections have captured the attention of the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and Martha Stewart Weddings (“Can a Jell-O Shot Be Classy?”). Jeffrey Steingarten wrote about them in Vogue, complete with a photo of a pasty-looking model wearing a gelatin mold on her noggin like a Parisian chapeau.

Caterers are now calling jelly shots “edible cocktails” and serving them at weddings. Corporations are having their logos put on signature jelly shots that are scarfed down by employees at company soirees.

Bloggers are developing sophisticated recipes that take hours, using techniques like layering and embedding, and featuring ingredients such as salted caramel, Earl Grey tea, sake and srirachas.

“These aren’t your frat brothers’ Jell-O shots,” said Matthew Micari, a biologist from the Boston area who now works in his “gelaboratory” making things like tiny mugs of root beer gelatin garnished with pretzel handles.


With Memorial Day and the Fourth of July just around the corner, we asked Sirois and Palm to create some jelly shots for us based on summertime cocktails. The results were part molecular gastronomy, part “Let’s party!”

Their Key Lime Colada has two layers, and contains coconut rum and Pinnacle’s Key Lime Whipped Vodka. Presented on a plate sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs, it’s reminiscent of a slice of key lime pie. (This one was my favorite. You’ll find the recipe accompanying this story.)

The Blood Orange Margarita contains tequila, and is sprinkled with a bit of salt and garnished with a snip of sage. The Raspberry Cosmo is made with raspberry vodka and topped with a fresh raspberry and a touch of lime zest.

And, to add a bit of whimsy, Sirois and Palm made a jelly shot they call the “Blue Hawaiian,” formed in a tiki head mold and garnished with bits of pineapple and cherry that would be great for a backyard party this summer.

For the kids, they made a tray of cut-out stars that were red, white and blue, non-alcoholic, and perfect for a Memorial Day get-together.

A shot they call “Cherries” is ostensibly for children, but adults love them too. A maraschino cherry is enrobed in gelatin, the stem sticking out the top of the shot. Grab it by the stem to eat it. (At Halloween, they used the same mold to make jelly shot eyeballs.)

Partners in business and in life, Sirois and Palm both fled the hustle and bustle a while back. They sold their house in Scarborough and traveled the country in an RV for a few months, sometimes making jelly shots for people they met along the way.

Now that they are back in Maine, they are looking for ways to turn jelly shots and other mini-foods into a career.

“We had been looking for an opportunity to kind of get out of corporate America and do our own thing,” Palm said. “This was just an outlet for us to be creative.

“We started making (jelly shots) and bringing them to parties, and they kind of turned into friends and family saying, ‘Those are awesome. I want them for a birthday party,’ and ‘Can you bring them over to my house for a party?’ “

The couple had a friend who was going to a New York-themed New Year’s Eve party where guests were supposed to bring a New York-inspired cocktail. Most people brought martinis; their friend brought their jelly shots with names like NYPD Blueberry (with a real blueberry embedded in the middle), Sex and the City Cosmo and Big Apple Martini (molded into the shape of an apple).

For a friend who was having a Red Sox party, the couple made an All-American Appletini, a Perfect Pitch Pina Colada, a Red Sox Raspberry Cosmo and a Boston Blueberry Martini.

Sirois and Palm are hoping that one day they’ll be able to transform their passion for jelly shots — and other mini-edibles — into a business. They are pursuing state licensing so they can make edible cocktails for paying clients.

In the meantime, they’re having fun making jelly shots for family and friends, kids’ birthday parties and, of course, themselves. They are also available to teach people who want to learn from their experience.


Sirois and Palm estimate they have developed at least 50 jelly shot recipes, using everything from cocktail mixers to Stonewall Kitchen products in their creations.

They get inspiration looking around online or just walking through the liquor store. But, Sirois warns, “you can’t just take a cocktail and put that exact same recipe into a jelly shot.”

Generally speaking, the alcoholic shots are about half liquor, half mixers (and that may include water). Depending on what you’re trying to make, you may have to add more mixer or more gelatin. Often, Sirois said, on the first try it’s either too strong or too weak.

Sirois and Palm usually start out by translating a liquid cocktail into a shot to see how it transforms from a liquid to a solid. Then they change it to make it their own, experimenting and tweaking to make it a unique creation.

“I think we went through four different liquid versions to get the Key Lime Colada nailed down,” Sirois said, “and then two or three solid versions.”

At this point, Palm interjects a bit of jelly shot humor: “We try not to get drunk before 10 a.m.”

Experimentation can take hours, but once a recipe is nailed down, things can move along a lot more quickly. A round of simpler jelly shots could be complete and in the fridge to set within a half hour or so.

But some shots require a little more technique. The bottom of the fruit used in “Cherries” has to be cut off so the cherries will sit straight and not fall over. And the cherries have to be taken out of the jar and left to dry for a bit before being put into the gelatin.

“When you use a fruit inside (a shot), it has to be a little more dry,” Palm said. “If you keep it wet, the gelatin won’t really gel to it very well. So with the cherries, we take them out the day before and prep them.”

And the Key Lime Colada, Palm notes, “doesn’t just magically come out looking like lime.”

“You sometimes have to play with it,” she said. “Because this has pineapple juice in it, it actually is a little yellow when you make it. And then we just put a few drops of food coloring in it until we like the color.”

Acidic liquids like citrus juices don’t always take the gelatin well, so sometimes it takes a little extra gelatin to get it to work. Salt on a margarita jelly shot will melt if the shot is left out too long, and colored sugar as a topping? Well, it just melts.

“The next thing we want to do, which we’ve seen online quite a bit, is we’re going to try to explore doing things in fruit,” Palm said. “You take the rind of an orange and you actually mold (the gelatin) into the fruit.”

“The possibilities of where this can go are endless,” Sirois said.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: MeredithGoad

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