I was handed my first Jell-O shot by an already-drunk but well-meaning frat boy on my second night of college. He instructed my friends and me on the proper technique for consumption: sticking a toothpick (or, easier but messier, a pinky finger) inside a Dixie cup filled with Kamchatka vodka and strawberry gelatin, loosening the shot around the edges before putting the cup to your mouth and sucking the mass down quickly like an oyster. They tasted like straight sugar and stained my tongue red. They went down far too easily and visited a ruin upon my stomach I don’t wish to ever revisit.
So it was with trepidation that I found myself ordering the Neverland Triangle ($14), a “trio of gelatin shots: Mojito, Aviation, strawberry pisco sour” from the new cocktail menu at Sable Kitchen & Bar (505 N. State St., River North, 312-755-9704), Alongside the recent lager revival, the candy-colored bowls of shareable and sweetened punches listed on many a bar menu, and the re-emergence of the Long Island iced tea, this seems to me to be the latest sign of a bro-ish tilt in craft cocktails—a Frat Cocktail movement, if you will. It’s possibly the most extreme sign of rebellion against the Prohibition-era beverages of a few years back, a way to foist a little extra glee upon the occasionally self-serious bartending world.
Sable’s shots are not the boozy, bottom-shelf wallop I (not) so fondly remember. Rather, an order includes three glasses filled with gelatins flavored like classic cocktails, topped with foam and served in a bed of pebbled ice alongside tiny spoons for daintily scooping out your shot. The Aviation and pisco sour were mighty subtle (especially for a drink that typically comes in flavors and colors not often found outside a Kraft factory), but the Mojito popped like spearmint gum and went down even easier than the ones I remember from freshman year. Best of all, the next morning, my stomach felt just fine.