A party just isn't a party until the jello shot shooting begins -- then the party can become a bit too much. Jello shots, those magically congealed packets of adult goodness, are just as dependent on the booze inside as they are on the actual gelatin. Vodka often finds its way encased inside the shots because the liquor's lack of flavor and scent will not overpower the gelatin's flavor. Different proofs of vodka will actually affect the jello shots' flavor and strength, and jello shots with an 80-proof vodka will not have the exact same preparation as other proofs.
The Proof Is in the Jello
Proof signifies how strong, or weak, a liquor really is. Proof measures the liquor's level of ethanol, which is also known as ethyl alcohol. Any liquor's proof is simply double the alcohol by volume percentage, therefore an 80-proof vodka has an alcohol by volume of 40 percent. A liquor's proof also affects its freezing point, with liquors with higher proofs containing less water and boasting lower freezing points; likewise, liquors with lower proofs contain more water and have higher freezing points that are closer to water's.
The Right Stuff
One of the most important steps in making jello shots is getting the proportions right -- the recipe must be slightly altered for different proofs of liquors. The reason for this is that different proofs affect how much water is needed. For 80-proof vodka, the required ratio is 5 parts vodka and 3 parts water -- not including the water required in the gelatin's listed recipe. If making shots with a lower proof vodka, you would need to add more vodka and less water. On the other end of the spectrum, mixing a vodka with a higher proof would require more water than vodka.
Tools of the Trade
Jello shot preparation is actually quite simple, with the biggest factor being time. In addition to a small packet of gelatin and vodka, the only other required ingredient is water. Tools needed include a measuring cup, a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a saucepan, a large cookie or baking sheet, 2-ounce plastic cups with lids and a non-flavored cooking spray. You may substitute the gelatin with sugar-free gelatin, though the substitution will yield a slightly smaller batch.
The Right Steps
Fill the saucepan with a cup of water, then bring to a boil. Mix in a small packet of gelatin, then stir with the spoon until the powder thoroughly dissolves. Remove from the stovetop, pour into the mixing bowl, stir in 3/8 cup of cold water, then let the mixture cool. Once cooled, add 5/8 cup of chilled vodka. Place the plastic cups onto the cookie sheet, then spray them lightly with the cooking spray to keep the jello shots from sticking to the cups. Pour the contents into the plastic cups, filling them three-quarters of the way up. Affix the lids to the cups, then place the cookie sheet and cups into the refrigerator for four hours to chill and solidify.