Food & Drink » Remix

Remix: The Pousse-Café



The pousse-café is of those stunt drinks that became popular in the '70s (though it's been around since the end of the 19th century). Neither shaken nor stirred, it's carefully crafted by pouring anywhere from three to seven liqueurs of different specific gravity over the back of a spoon into a narrow cordial glass, resulting in a layered Technicolor mess-o-flavors. It's pretty but pointless, since drinking one (or even bumping the glass) makes the layers collapse – and last time I checked, drinks were for drinking, not putting on a shelf.

However. For 4th of July, I knew I wanted do a red-white-&-blue drink, and the stripes of the pousse-café are an ideal way to show off colored liquor. But, ugh, so fussy. Then the lightbulb went off — jello shots! They're the essence of raucous summer party fun, and it's just as easy to make a striped jello shot as it is to pour six layers of old-lady liqueurs.

Or so I thought. In the end, striped jello shots turned out to be more time-consuming, because you have to let each layer chill and set, but I was right about one thing: They are way more fun. So have an awesome America-fuck-yeah 4th, and remember to point the fireworks away from your face.

Classic: pousse-café

• 1/2 ounce crème de cassis
• 1/2 ounce white crème de cacao
• 1/2 ounce coffee liqueur (like Kahlúa)
• 1/2 ounce crème de menthe
• 1/2 ounce amaretto liqueur
• 1/2 ounce brandy
• 1/2 ounce peppermint schnapps

Slowly pour each liqueur over the back of a bar spoon into a clean, clear cordial glass in the order listed, starting with crème de cassis. Try not to get any on the sides of the glass.

Note: There's no specific recipe for a pousse-café; it's a category, not a single cocktail. With a mix of raspberry, almond and chocolate flavors, this drink has a fancy-coffee-drink vibe, but the sky's the limit — just look up a liquor gravity table online and start layering.

Remixed: red-white-&-blue jello shot

blue layer:
• 3-ounce package Berry Blue Jell-O
• 6 ounces boiling water
• 5 ounces chilled blue Curaçao liqueur
• 3 ounces cold water

white layer:
• 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
(1/4 ounce each)
• 2 ounces cold water
• 3/4 cup coconut milk
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons chilled coconut rum
• 1/2 cup Cool Whip

red layer:
• 3-ounce package red Jell-O
• 6 ounces boiling water
• 5 ounces chilled white rum
• 3 ounces cold water

First layer: Stir blue Jell-O into boiling water thoroughly, until all the powder dissolves. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then add the chilled blue Curaçao and cold water. Pour into clear plastic shot cups or a glass baking dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Second layer: Whisk the gelatin into the cold water. In a saucepan, mix coconut milk and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring. Add coconut mixture to gelatin, along with chilled coconut rum, and mix thoroughly. Let cool for 15 minutes, then fold in Cool Whip and pour over blue layer. Return cups or dish to refrigerator for at least another half-hour.

Third layer: Stir red Jell-O into boiling water (make sure all the powder is dissolved). Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then add the chilled rum and cold water. Pour carefully over white layer and refrigerate for another 30 minutes or until ready to serve. If using a pan, cut out with a star-shaped cookie cutter or into cubes; if cups, dig 'em out and start slurping.

Note: In its reliance on processed and pre-flavored ingredients, this recipe is a bit trashier than I usually like to go. But summer is all about easy, and this recipe would take even more time and effort if you made your own flavored syrups instead of using boxed Jell-O. (That said, cherry Jell-O is the devil and will make your entire kitchen smell like Life Savers.) Similarly, Cool Whip is stable enough, thanks to modern petrochemical science, that it won't collapse on you or curdle when you add the rum, as homemade whipped cream might. But if you want to go artisanal – and you should, it's way tastier – check Salivation Army at for a few extra recipes.