Published on May 6th, 2014 | by Alexa


Product Spotlight: Ludlow’s Jelly Shots

Jelly shots have been making appearances at college parties for years (usually a mix of vodka and your favorite packet of j-e-l-l-o), but it’s safe to say they don’t make ’em like they used to. And we mean that in the best way possible.

In recent years we’ve seen the rise of cocktail jelly shots – a playful take on cocktails in mini, edible form. Jason Cousins is credited with putting jelly shots on the map at the Meatball Shop back when he was the beverage director in 2012. Since then we’ve seen variations pop up at bars like Citizen in Boston, Barmini in Washington DC, and most recently, at Golden Cadillac, where David Wondrich gave a talk on these 70’s inspired shooters.

We asked Freya Estreller, co-founder of Ludlows Cocktail Co. (and Coolhaus ice cream sandwich fame), to give us the 101 on her new line of jelly shots, which aim to bring this cocktail trend to the masses.

Photo1 (1)Jelly shots don’t typically have the best reputation. Why are yours different?
That’s why they deserve an upgrade! People are used to Jello shots that are made with artificial colors and flavors and cheap booze – basically a cheap and sweet way to get drunk. And most homemade Jello shots just use vodka or “neutral grain spirits”, which is grain alcohol. However, Ludlows Jelly Shots use all-natural ingredients and premium spirits. Our flavors are inspired by classic cocktails and we stay true to the classic ingredients. For example, our Margarita doesn’t just taste like boozy lime – in ours, you can actually taste the Blanco Tequila, the fresh lime, and the triple sec. Same goes with our Old Fashioned – there’s real barrel aged bourbon, bitters and a hint of orange and cherry.

How did you come up with the idea to start producing jelly shots?
It began, as these things do, pretty informally just talking over dinner with friends about jello shots and wondering why no one had made a “gourmet” version of them. I co-founded Coolhaus, where we basically took something with a more juvenile reputation that hadn’t seen much innovation and turned it on its head by creating interesting flavor combinations, the ability to customize, and using high-quality ingredients, so we are seeking to do something similar with the jello shot. And making classic cocktails with serious ingredients even more fun to drink seemed like a fun business.

What flavors do your jelly shots come in? How’d you pick them? Are some cocktails more jelly friendly than others?
Fresh Lime Margarita, Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, Meyer Lemon Drop, and Planter’s Punch. We picked these as we wanted to focus on classic cocktails and wanted to offer a range of flavor profiles and types of spirits while allowing the natural colors of the juices and ingredients to shine through. If something tastes good as a cocktail, you can pretty much be guaranteed that it tastes good as a jelly shot. One of the only hard things to capture when going from cocktail to jelly form is carbonation, if you are replicating a carbonated cocktail. However, the flavor is still there, and we can attest that a gin and tonic jelly shot is quite delicious. As is a Bellini for that matter.


How much alcohol is in one jelly shot? Would I find myself in trouble if I tasted multiple jelly shots in a row?
Our shots are 30 proof (15% alcohol) by volume. They are strong enough to give you a little buzz, but not too strong to prevent you from trying a few at a time.

For those of us who can’t access Ludlow’s at a nearby store, do you have any home jelly shot recipes you can share?

Absolutely! Here’s a recipe for an Old Fashioned jelly shot made with agar (a gelatin substitute made from seaweed) so your vegan friends can finally partake.

¾ C water
¾ tsp powdered agar (can find at Asian supermarkets or gourmet specialty store)
½ C white granulated sugar
2/3 C bourbon (we recommend a sweeter one like Makers Mark)
1/3 C fresh squeezed orange juice
1 T Luxardo or Amarena cherry syrup
½ T Angostura bitters (play around with different bitters!)

• In a 2qt saucepan, bring water and agar to a boil.
• Once boiling, shut off heat, add sugar and stir with whisk to ensure sugar and agar are evenly dissolved.
• Add bourbon, fresh squeezed orange juice (it’s okay if some of the pulp gets in there), Luxardo cherry syrup, and bitters.
• Stir and let cool for 5 minutes. Use a cup with a spout to pour liquid into 1oz plastic cups.
• The jelly shots will firm up at room temperature in 30-45 minutes. Chill if you desire and serve!

What’s your cocktail of choice? Any favorite bars in LA or New York that you frequent?
I’ve been making a lot of Manhattans at home recently using different vermouths like Carpona Antica and Dolin with different ryes and bourbons like Rittenhouse Rye and Buffalo Trace. In LA, I love going to Honeycut, Goldies and Ink. All of them have respected bar programs, though Goldies and Ink are more restaurant than bar, but Brittini Rae Peterson (Goldies) and Gaby Mlynarczyk (Ink) who head the bars there are geniuses! In NYC, the Rusty Knot is always a good time and we are friendly with the guys behind the bar at Maiden Lane.

Freya_ColorFreya Estreller is a proud Los Angeles (Atwater Village represent!) native. She had the proverbial quarter-life crisis at 26, took the GMAT, didn’t do so well, and went to work at a restaurant in addition to her full time corporate time job. She went on to create Coolhaus with Natasha Case, all-natural & architecturally themed ice cream sandwiches, which are now sold in over 2,000+ stores in 40+ states and growing. Today, she’s on a mission to “gentrify” the Jello Shot with Ludlows Cocktail Co. The company is focused on crafting innovative ready-to-drink cocktails using all-natural ingredients and high quality spirits

Ludlows Jelly shots are pre-packaged, shelf-stable, and will hit shelves this summer in CA and NY. Follow Ludlows on Twitter @ludlowofficial or visit their website at

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About the Author

Alexa is the co-founder of and a passionate foodie and New Yorker. She's a digital marketer by trade, start-up junkie, and karaoke queen. You can find her on Twitter @alexa.

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