There are jelly shots. And then there are the shots from My Jello Americans: Cory Kete, Moe Sheehan and Megan Booth have elevated the jelly shot into an art form. An art form that gets you wasted.
I sat down with these titans of gelatin in our internet office.
OK. What possibly possessed you to do such important work?
Cory: Moe and I lived together last year in Philly before Moe moved to Austin, Texas. We wanted to make Jell-O shots for a particular party and went out and bought a ton of supplies. Even though the party was snowed out, we made the shots anyway, photographed them and created the blog.
Moe: The idea was always there. It was something we each had since birth and it wasn’t until this particularly terrible winter in Philadelphia that the idea was dislodged and worked into our conscious brains. The idea was always a big science project. That’s how we do. Big. And science.
(It was also this particularly terrible winter that convinced me to move into the blistering Austin heat.)
Cory: Moe moved to Austin, and our mutual friend Meg now helps with the production in Philly. Moe’s migration has made things more exciting. I think we both are interested with trying to impress each other and raise the bar. It’s not competitive though! We make sure we each know how every shot is created, so any of the particular shots and techniques can be recreated on either side of the country.
Do any of you have a culinary or mixology background?
Cory: We all have been in the food industry for over 10 years apiece, mostly serving in restaurants. Moe has been a bartender. I have a few cocktail books, but most of the flavours I come up with are inspired by whatever the concept of the shot is. For instance, the Mesozoic is supposed to look like amber, so I used maple syrup and two liquors I thought would work well with that: spiced rum and SNAP.
Moe: I have been a bartender and always liked coming up with new drinks. I never got the knack for recording anything like recipes, so every time I made something, it was a little different. (But spectacular nonetheless.) I also was a mediocre pastry cook, which has little effect on my Jell-O work.
How do you dream up the ideas for your next creation?
Cory: We have have a long to-do list of shots to make and are inspired by: moulds we see, interesting ingredients, movies, things people say, our childhoods, our nightmares. We’ve made shots for an ice cream-themed silk screening show. We are getting ready to do a monsters-themed art show. We have given each other themes and ideas. Sometimes, it’s what we can make with whatever we have on hand.
Moe: We become inspired by anything around us. The ingredients at the Dollar Tree or Cousin’s or my favourite grocery in Austin, Fiesta!, a word someone said to us. Pop culture reference or Gregorian calendar holidays. Random combinations of numbers and colours. Anything looks like a Jell-O shot once you have the Knox in you.
Often people want us to make shots within a theme. I made Mexican Independence Day shots for the Mexican restaurant where I work in Austin – flan and Mexican flags.
Are you experimenting with molecular mixology and chemistry?
Moe: I’ve been doing experiments with solubility and tonicity. I really want to submerge Jell-O in a solution or some item in gelatin. I’ve been trying to work on how long until sugar candy dissolves in gelatin.
Additionally, there are times when we add sugar to the top of gelatin causing some water to leech out. It’s a pretty interesting study, though at times, it doesn’t result in successful or aesthetically pleasing Jell-O shots.
Cory: Jell-O is an exciting medium. We are learning first hand what does and does not work. There are a few shot ideas we have our heart set on creating that are far more complicated then anything we’ve tried and have required many late nights of experimenting.
Corn: Knox, bourbon, diced jalapeño, cut corn, Agave nectar
Husk: Knox, jalapeño vodka, wweetened condensed milk, green food colouring
What’s your favourite shot you’ve made thus far?
Cory: I tend to like whatever shot we’ve most recently made, but if I have to give an answer, I’d say the Digestif, because it serves dual purposes.
Moe: My favourite has always been Let Sleeping Gnomes Lie. To be perfectly honest, I probably haven’t given any of the more recent shots a chance. I’ve closed off my heart a bit I suppose. But you know what they say when you find that special one you just know. I also really like When Pigs Hula and the Bacon and Eggs. Oh yes, and the Jason Voorhes. And the Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwich. And the Mesozoic.
So that’s my favourite.
Egg white: Knox, citrus vodka, sweetened condensed milk, almond extract
Yolk: Knox, heavy cream, sugar, lemon zest, food colouring, sprinkles