Modernist Vodka Jelly Shots

Vodka Jelly Shots with a modernist twist!

I’m very pleased to have been contacted by Vodka Jelly Shots ( to help them develop a new type of vodka jelly shot! This brought me back to my student days, when the perfect vodka jelly shot was simply the one with the highest volume/ratio of vodka to jelly… but now I’m a grown-up, so my priorities are a bit different.

Modernist Vodka Jelly Shots
Modernist Vodka Jelly Shots

In truth, these are not really vodka jelly shots at all – due to the fact that they don’t actually contain any gelatine!! This will be a disappointment to some should be good news to the vegetarians. The substance used is still a “gel” or to give it its technical name “hydrocolloid” but is made out of alginate.

So, I hear you say… what is alginate? Well, this might sound a bit gross but it is the gloopy stuff that you see when you break open seaweed. Yum! This sounds a bit better when you remember that gelatine is boiled up cow’s feet! Who would not agree that seaweed is nicer then cow’s feet?

So, why have I chosen to break with tradition? This is because of a special property of alginate, it can be set by chemical methods rather than most gels that simply set when they cool. As every child that has waited impatiently for the jelly they just made with boiling water to cool, sneaking little glimpses into the fridge – jelly (gelatine) needs to be cooled before it holds its form. Not so with alginate.

The advantage of this is that you don’t need to set the whole jelly. The result your looking for is a sphere of jelly containing a liquid core, like a bubble of vodka. It can be spooned or (carefully) picked up and placed in the mouth – then when you bite down on it, the bag pops and the vodka squirts out.

So how is the vodka jelly “bubble” achieved? Well is is not too complicated really, as long as you have the magical mixology ingredients which are Sodium Alginate and Calcium  Lacate.

To make them you just need to know that the sodium alginate will not “set” into a gel until the calcium ions have “cooked” it, so the key to getting only the outside of the vodka jelly shots to set is to only allow the outside to have both of the ingredients in it.

  1. Make a setting solution of sodium alginate- this will cook the vodka spheres
  2. Mix the calcium lactate into the cocktail (vodka and a little water) then give it a really good stir because the calcium lactate really, really does not like to dissolve – use blender to really help persuade the stuff to disperse and dissolve.
  3. Place the vodka cocktail into the freezer in ice cube trays.
  4. When it is solid then plop out the cubes one at a time into the sodium alginate setting solution.
  5. Leave it to cook for approx. 2 minutes then take it out and rinse it off.
  6. Eat/drink your modernist vodka jelly shot!