Edible cocktails with gelatin

Recipes for Bluberry martini jelly shots (top right), B-52 jelly shots (bottom right), Prosecco gelée (middle left) and Gin and Tonic gelée (middle) are given below.

Just wanted to point you to a beautiful picture gallery of edible cocktails accompanying an article by Betty Hallock at LA Times, “Cocktails you can eat”.

The recipes (shortened and converted to metric units by me) are as follows:

Blueberry martini jelly shots
300 mL vodka (blueberry flavored)
60 mL simple syrup
25 g gelatin (6.9%)
35 fresh blueberries

Mix vodka and syrup in small saucepan. Add gelatin and leave for 5-10 min until soft. Gently heat saucepan and stir until gelatin dissolves (approx. 10 min). Strain to remove any undissolved gelatin. Place bluberry in cocktail mold and pour vodka mixture into each mold. Cool until set. Makes about 35 cocktails of 15 mL each. (Adapted from Bar Nineteen 12)

Prosecco gelée
1 length of a vanilla bean
140 g sugar
15 g gelatin sheets, bloomed (3.1%)
340 mL Prosecco (or other white wine)

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and mix thoroughly with sugar. Mix water and sugar in saucepan and heat over high heat until syrup almost comes to a boil. Remove from heat and bloomed gelatin and stir until it dissolves. Add wine and stir gently. Pour into 20 x 20 cm pan lined with plastic wrap and cool until set. Cut into squares, turn upside down to display settled vanilla beans and serve. (Adapted from Craft pastry chef Catherine Schimenti)

B-52 jelly shots
170 mL Kahlúa
170 mL Baileys
170 mL Grand Marnier
24 g gelatin sheets (4.7%)

Place each liqueur in separate bowls and add 8 g gelatin to each. Cover and leave until gelatin has softened. Pour Kahlúa/gelatin into a saucepan and heat over low heat until gelatin dissolves. Strain to remove any remaining solids. Pour liquid into a 10 x 20 cm pan lined with plastic wrap. Cool for about one hour. Repeat with Baileys, and then with Grand Marnier, pouring the newly prepared liqueur on top of the set liqueur in the mold. Cut into pieces and serve. (Adapted from Bar Nineteen 12)

Gin and tonic gelée
170 mL gin
10 g gelatin (2.2%)
280 mL tonic water
finely grated zest of 4 to 5 limes
1 T citric acid
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 T powdered sugar

Let the gelatin soften in gin for 5-10 min. Heat over low heat and stir until gelatin has dissolved. Pour in tonic water carefully (to avoid it from bubbling over), swirl the contents to obtain a homogeneous mixture and immediatly pour contents into 40 mL molds. Cool. To serve, unmold the gelée and sprinkle each cocktail with lime zest and a little of the premixed citric acid, baking soda and powdered sugar. Serve immediately. (Adapted from Providence pastry chef Adrian Vasquez) For reference, you might want to compare this recipe with Eben Freeman’s Jellied G&T.

You might notice that the amount of gelatin varies over a pretty large range from 2.2-6.9%. This is also well above the typical concentration found in jellies (0.6-1%). A possible reason for the large range would be that alcohol interferes with the setting of gelatin, and a quick plot of gelatin vs. alcohol content suggests that this might be the case.


But as you can see from the B-52 jelly shots, the same concentration of gelatin is used for Baileys (17% alcohol), Kahlúa (26.5% alcohol) and Grand Marnier (40% alcohol), so there should be some room for variation here (I doubt that the resulting variation in texture was actually intended in this recipe). So if we round off, the linear regression yields the following correlation between gelatin and alcohol:

% gelatin to add = (% alcohol in final mix x 0.1) + 2

One thing that surprises me is that none of the recipes call for gellan? This hydrocolloid is said to have superior flavor release properties as it is more prone to break once you chew it. From what I know, it should work fine with alcoholic beverages. Has anyone tried this yet?


  1. Thordur: Thanks! This looks great and shows that gellan should work well with alcohol! The recommended amount of gellan is 0.5-2.5% (ranging from a soft gel to a firm gel), so you might want to reduce the amount. Did you taste it?

    adey: The agar gels are not clear, so this would only work for opaque liqueurs such as Baileys and Kahlua.

  2. Martin,

    There are quite a few compounds that can actually interfere in the setting of gelatine (and other hydrocolloids). Alcohol is one of them, and definitely has something to do with the high proportions of gelatine used in these solid cocktails. We have been working on a jelly gin-tonic (trough an inquiry by Mirko Junge) and a perfect set of gelatine with gin is achieved at around 1.6% gelatine. However, it almost melts at room temperature (the amount of gin was 40%, which in turn is 40% alcohol: 16% alcohol aprox). Transglutaminase did not help to have a totally solid gelatine at room temperature (although from my point of view this is not necessary, because it was much tastier when it was pretty cold).

    As far as gellan gum is concerned, first, the texture is much worse than gelatine for these purposes: it breaks during chewing instead of melting, leading to a rubbery texture with hundreds of little pieces moving in your mouth. Nevertheless, this texture can be also modified by using sugar, salt and other compounds.

    By the way, I am not sure what exactly means “superior” flavour release properties. As we talked about in Paris, there are hundreds of flavour compounds in most foodstuffs (and beverages) and some can be released faster than others in a matrix, while in other matrix the situation can be just the opposite, depending mainly on the polarity of the compounds and of the matrix. Moreover, a slower release can be great in some dishes while in others a faster is better. There is not a rule.

    Great post Martin. This topic of modifying setting and textural properties of hydrocolloids by using different solutes is very interesting (We’re trying to do some research about it).

  3. I think the handling should be considered when deciding how much gelatin to use. If the cocktails are served on a spoon, they can be quite soft. If guests are to help themselves with individual pieces from a plate, they need to be firmer.

    I tried the gin & tonic recipe and found that they were to soft to be handled at room temperature.

    Orges: You are right that “superiour flavour release” is not very precise. I should have written “different”. Since you have worked quite a lot with gelatin – how large is the difference between gelatins with different bloom strength? And – is there a simple way to judge blooming strenght at home?

  4. Completely agree with you: if the pieces are aimed to be handled, you need a much higher concentration of gelatin.

    The blooom strenght and the concentration of gelatin influence the volatile compound release, but I do not know in which extent (very rigid geltine release lower amounts of most volatiles).

    Bloom strenght is usually in the label (around 250 in commercial ones). I know I have read a proceddure to calculate it… but I do not remember where. If I do, I promise I will post it in khymos



  5. sygyzy: A sheet is typically around 1.7 g, so 6 sheets is about 10 g. With gelatin there is no need to do it more accurately than this. But if you want to know excatly, divide the net weight of your pack of gelatin sheets by the number of sheets…

  6. from the chemistry point of view: gelatin is a protein while agar, gellan and most other gelling agents are polysaccharides (starches), right? Proteins are more prone to denaturation due to heat, acidity, alcohol etc., while starches are generally very stable.

    Would it be a sound conclusion, then, that using a starch-based gelling agent, the starch concentration is less sensitive to the alcohol content? If so, you could use the same basic recipe (gelling agent concentration) for virtually every cocktail recipe. Of course, varying sugar content (and other ingredients, i.e. vodka vs Baileys) would make a difference anyway.

  7. I love the idea of the whole cocktail on a platter thing…
    I havent tried it yet, but i want to, think it would make quite an impact on my friends.
    Can i buy gelatin in a supermarket, or where can i get it, im from south africa…

    Could anyone maybe help me, as to where i can get it??
    My email is lourencebam(a)telkomsa.net

  8. Tried it with gelatine and port (fortified wine 20%). Brought 125cc of port to luke-warm, and dissolved 1,5 sheets of gelatine. Let set in refigerator. Cut off a nice piece of cheese, put port-gel on top, en cut into cubes. Great desert! Really nice port-tase, with alcohol kick in place. Suprised my wife! Trie 1/3 port with 2/3 cheese.

    Also made children’s version: (strong) black tea gel with apple. Also cubed. Use 1/2 tea, 1/2 apple.

    I’ll suprise a few people during christmass dinner!

  9. Martin,
    Thanks so much, this a fantastic blog, and a great post! I definitely want to play around with this for my next party.
    As you mentioned in one of your comments, “I think the handling should be considered when deciding how much gelatin to use.” Could you send me the data used for those plots (since you’ve already put it together…), and maybe add labels for which point corresponds to which recipe? It would be easy to envision 3 separate lines there with equal slope and an intercept that varied according to final firmness, but I could just be reading too much into it.

  10. I made a frozen apple infused vodka “popscicle” with pomegranate and mint alginate spheres suspended inside for an intermezzo on our tasting menu last week.

    The vodka was infused sous vide with granny smith apples and poached for 1/2 an hour (as opposed to six days to 2 weeks for normal infusions)

    Gellan was used at 0.5% to make a fluid gel with concentrated apple juice and the vodka.

    The spheres were made with Calcium lactate in an aliginate bath (inverse method) and then frozen into small cylinders with skewers. It was served in a martini glass with additional spheres of each kind and a splash of champagne.

    The flavors and contrasting textures were outstanding, however I would have liked it to have been clearer to see the suspended spheres better.

    Does anyone have a suggestion on clarification when using gellan?


  11. Edward,

    Nice idea! I guess the reason you use gellan is that you want to keep the pomegranate and mint spheres evenly suspended until the popscicles freeze?

    I was wondering if you made a popscicle without gellan to check if it is gellan which causes the turbidity? Anyhow – my guess is that small bubbles of gas are causing the trouble. This is related to the problem of making perfectly clear ice cubes. The solubility of gases in water increases as the temperature goes down, but once the water freezes, it can no longer keep the gas dissolved and a bubble is formed. Once the water on the surface starts to freeze, the gas bubbles formed at the bottom can no longer escape and are trapped. Adding a hydrocolloid to the water would presumably cause even more bubbles to be trapped.

    Another possibility is that gellan precipitates when the gel is frozen. If this is the case, perhaps you could substitute xanthan for gellan?

  12. hi~~~
    how are u doing ? i`m korean and as a bartender.
    i know this website recently. and i`ve been interested in molecular cocktails since end of last year. but it`s sooo hard to make and learn.
    also, hard to find out any recipe and information in south korea.
    how can i know that people,recipe,book,making…etc
    plz..let me know. i relly want to learn it.

  13. Although the gelatinized cocktails are fun, I have also had the pleasure of playing with some gelatinized wine recipes. Of course the acidity will factor in, too. My favorite will be coming into season soon.
    Add some mulling spices to a small amount of hot water to make an infusion, then add to a fresh bottle or two of Beaujolais Nouveau, add gelatin to desired thickness (as this will vary depending on presentation). And, VOILA! BEAU-JELLO!

  14. Martin!

    whats the are the measurements of Grams of gellan to percentage of alchl? and regarding edwards cocktail did he have intentions of serving the vodka apple as a gelatine or a popsicle? because you wouldnt freeze gellan right? if your aim was to suspend the sphere, you could use a higher concentrate of xantana to create a denser solution. or is it just not dense enough?

  15. I made some fantastic cherry brandy cubes with a cherry suspended in the middle. It took quite a lot of gelatine to get it thick enough though despite my displaying them on spoons.
    I used kosher, fish gelatine that comes in crystal form.

    My trouble was that I had to make it in two stages to allow me to get the cherries centered. Would xhanthan gum help?

    I also note that a drop of glycerine makes the alcohol seem more pronounced and enhanced the experience.

    Does anyone have any ideas for a gelatine dessert that can handle being frozen and defrosted? I am designing desserts for an airline catering tray that will be flash frozen and gently thawed over 24 hours before being served.

  16. Is mixing gellan with gelatine possible, for use in the same application? That way you could take the best of two worlds and end up with a “something inbetween” consistency…

  17. Yes – that is certainly possible. There is a recipe for “Dessert jelly” in “Texture – a hydrocolloid recipe collection” which combines gelatin and gellan (it’s on page 66 in version 2.2).

  18. I’ve done quite a few trials with agar and alcohol. The important step in the mixing is to start with the gelling ingredient with water or a heat resistant liquid (won’t lose flavours or build nasty tastes on boiling for agar or being parboiled for carrageenan or gellan). You dissolve the gelling ingredient and then reduce the solution to concentrate the gelling ingredient. Then you can add alcohol without worrying about too much evaporating ! It also improves taste and results not to add acidic ingredients early in the heating nor fruit juice and ingredients that will provide stewed fruit flavours (a hint for those wanting to make agar fruit jelly or jams). This also improves solubilisation because most gelling agents and thickeners (hydrocolloids) are precipitated by high alcoholic levels so it’s logical to dissolve first. Remove excess water. Add alcohol on cooling.
    Using strong gelling agar is ideal and 0.5%weight to end solution gives a nice softness to the gel and 1 to 1,5% will allow some experiments with cocktail sticks. Small molecules aka sugar, alcohol, salt etc act as plasticisers and will/might reduce firmness while improving breakability. Many interesting textures come from blitzed alcohol gels that as other blitzed gels are thixotropic, sticky and melt (technically they “fall apart”) because they are only made of minute spheres stuck together at their surface (like mud) and not a soft but massive solid (try xanthan/LBG; xanthan/konjac, gellan, carrageenan/tara gels…).
    I would suggest using sodium citrate before making gellan gels to anybody wanting to find out how different gellan gels are depending on the (calcium content of ) the water ! The colour of gellan gels also seams influenced by the ions, probably because some powder never dissolves properly due to immediate gelling of the particules instead of total dilution.

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