Soon after I learned about the seasonal Jell-O shot at Manhattan’s East Village bar Detour, we received a terrific Jell-O shot recipe from new Iron Chef Michael Symon, which will be published in our February issue. I predicted then that luxe Jell-O shots would be the next tiki drinks—the white-hot cocktail category du jour. When asked to bring a dish to food editor Nick Fauchald’s “Fakesgiving,” I thought I’d help perpetuate the nascent trend.
I tried two different versions: cranberry-pomegranate shots with rye whisky, sweet vermouth and bitters, and maple-sweetened Fuji apple shots with bacon-infused bourbon. While I actually preferred the flavor of the tart, intense cranberry shot, the gelatin didn’t set well, so I need to work on the recipe for that one. The apple shot, however, was a huge hit, and I’m very happy to share the recipe here.
Inspired by mixologist Eben Freeman’s technique called “fat washing,” which Nick wrote about in our December 2007 issue, I infused bourbon with bacon first before making the Jell-O. The flavor isn’t overwhelmingly bacony, but the technique does give the Jell-O a savory quality that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
5 strips slab bacon
1 1/4 cup bourbon
1 quart apple cider (I used Red Jacket Orchard’s Fuji apple cider)
1/2 cup maple syrup
5 packets unflavored gelatin
1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over low heat until the fat is rendered. Pour the hot fat into a heatproof glass measuring cup and stir in the bourbon. (Drain and eat the crispy bacon.) Let the bacon fat settle to the top of the liquid, then refrigerate until the fat solidifies completely, about 1 hour. (For a more intense bacon flavor, refrigerate overnight.) Spoon off and discard the fatty layer (or save the fat for sautéing apples). If stubborn little globules remain in the bourbon, strain it through a wet coffee filter.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat 3 cups of the apple cider with the maple syrup until just before it boils. In a large bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1 cup of cold apple cider. Let stand 1 minute. Add the hot juice and syrup to the bowl and stir until the gelatin dissolves, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bacon-infused bourbon. Pour the mixture into a large, shallow baking dish and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. Cut the Jell-O shots into 1- to 2-inch squares and eat within 24 hours—we found that the flavors mellowed considerably after only one day.