November 9, 2021
If you haven’t started making drinks with candy, what’s stopping you?
Candy cocktails don’t necessarily contain the finest bar ingredients, but that’s kind of the point. These sweet cocktails are fun—and the perfect accompaniment for themed parties like Halloween, Pride, or Christmas.
Plus, since many candies contain artificial coloring, using them in your cocktails makes them wild, unexpected colors. The point isn’t to make a refined drink full of natural ingredients; candy-infused booze is about celebrating unnaturally bright and sweet ingredients.
In the tutorial below, we’ll show you how to make Jolly-Rancher-infused vodka that is every bit as tart, sweet, and colorful as the candy itself. And, if you’re craving some candy but don’t have any on hand, we’ll show you how to replicate the flavor with alcohol. Your Jolly Rancher shots or vodka Jolly Rancher cocktails are sure to be a hit at your next party, thanks to the bittersweet flavors and dose of nostalgia.
How to prepare the jolly rancher drink
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 day (to dissolve candy)
Total time: 10 minutes active, 1 day inactive
Servings: Around 15-20 shots
- 1 750-milliliter bottle of vodka
- 25 Jolly Rancher candies (5 of each color)
- Separate the Jolly Ranchers by color. Each color will be used to infuse vodka with a single hue and flavor. (Green Jolly Ranchers will result in green apple vodka and so on.) Once you have separated the candies, place them into separate jars or containers with lids. We recommend having five of each color.
- There are approximately 25 ounces of vodka in one bottle, so pour five equal servings of roughly five ounces of vodka into the five different containers or jars containing Jolly Ranchers.
- Lid the containers and let the mixture sit for roughly a day. Be sure to stir or gently shake occasionally to disperse the sugars.
- After 24 hours, pass each color of infused vodka through a fine mesh strainer to remove any undissolved sugar.
- You can enjoy the infused vodka on its own in colorful shots or you can pour some of the vodka into a glass over ice and top up with your favorite lemon-lime soda, like Sprite or 7-Up, for an easy, sugary cocktail.
Bartender’s tip: You can easily amp up the Jolly Rancher flavor by making Jell-O shots. Get your hands on some Jolly Rancher flavored Jell-O, prepare the packet following the instructions on the box, and let the liquid cool. Then add in infused vodka of the same flavor. The quantity of vodka will vary based on the size of the Jell-O batch, but a good rule of thumb is one big shot of vodka per cup of Jell-O liquid. Once you’ve stirred in the vodka, transfer the liquid Jell-O to an ice cube tray or individual shot glasses and refrigerate until solid.
To earn some aesthetic points, you can crush up Jolly Rancher candies using a mortar and pestle (you can also put them in a freezer bag and hammer them) and sprinkle the candy on top of the shots.
Recipe adapted from The Girl Inspired.
If infusing vodka with candy isn’t your idea of fun, we understand. Perhaps you’ll try one of these shots at a party and become a convert, but until then, here are two easy ways to make a drink that tastes like candy but contains pure liquor and juice.
Jolly-Rancher-inspired cocktail #1: This version of the cocktail tastes like a Jolly Rancher, but not necessarily just one flavor or color of the candy. To make, combine 1 ounce of green apple vodka, 1 ounce of peach schnapps, and 4 ounces of cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake well and then strain into a tall cocktail glass, like a highball, over ice. Garnish with an orange wedge.
If you want to shift the flavor profile towards a particular fruit, you can add in a splash of vodka infused with that particular flavor of Jolly Rancher. If you wanted to make a watermelon Jolly Rancher drink, you could adjust the measurements in the following recipe down a bit to make room for a shot of watermelon candy vodka. This recipe, on its own, is intended to recreate the puckery sweet feel of the candy. Think of it as Jolly Rancher adjacent.
Jolly-Rancher-inspired cocktail #2: This take on the Jolly Rancher cocktail is a touch less tart, featuring the sweet, melon-based liqueur Midori. To make, combine 2 ounces of vodka, 1 ounce of Midori melon liqueur (other brands work, too), and 6 ounces of cranberry juice with plenty of ice in a cocktail shaker. After shaking, strain into a tall glass over ice cubes and garnish with a lime wheel.
Other candy-sweet cocktails:
- Whiskey sours
- Mimosas and bellinis (go heavy on the juice)
- Piña coladas (make an alcohol-free version for friends who don’t drink)
- Mai tais
- Chocolate martinis (and pretty much any drink made with chocolate)
- White russians
- Singapore slings
Time to order Jolly Ranchers? Gopuff is happy to fuel your weekend cocktail creativity. Simply place an order for everything you need and set up the bar while you’re waiting for the ingredients to arrive at your door.