Although many believe that Jell-O shots are a late-20th-century phenonemon, their origins are in the mid-19th century. In David Wondrich's book "Punch," the author gives the original formula for making jelly out of just about any punch.
Here, Spirits columnist Jason Wilson jellifies traditional Philadelphia Fish House Punch. Peach brandy is hard to find, so Wondrich recommends the following cheat: 3 ounces of applejack mixed with 1 ounce of "good, imported peach liqueur" such as Mathilde or G.E. Massenez. (Read: No Peachtree schnapps.)
If you want to make Fish House Punch instead of the jelly, add 6 cups of cold water, plus ice, to the mix.
Make Ahead: The jelly needs to be refrigerated for 18 to 24 hours.
Servings: 15 - 30
- For the punch
- Peels of 6 lemons
- 8 ounces sugar
- 8 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 6 lemons)
- 12 ounces rum
- 6 ounces cognac
- 6 ounces peach brandy (see headnote)
- For the punch jelly
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 1 1/2 ounces gelatin
- 4 1/2 cups hot water
For the punch: Combine the lemon peels (no pith) and sugar in a mixing glass or bowl. Prepare an oleo-saccharum (sweet oil) by muddling the peels until the sugar is wet with lemon oil. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Strain into a large pitcher or jug. Add the rum, cognac and brandy, stirring to incorporate. At this point, if you are not jellifying the punch, add 6 cups of cold water, plus ice, and serve.
For the punch jelly: Place the cold water in a bowl. Add the gelatin and let it dissolve and bloom.
Add the hot water and stir to activate the gelatin, then stir in the punch. Pour into a gelatin mold or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours, until well chilled and completely set.
If desired, cut the jelly into small squares, or spoon it into small cups.
Adapted from Wondrich's "Punch" (Perigee, 2010).
Tested by Michael Taylor.
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