Don't laugh -- I'm so serious here. You need Jell-O shots in your life.
Especially right here, right now when everyone is running out of bar options, grasping at anything that isn't bleak, ice-covered or slushy. So that means the fancy spots and go-to bars are packed, teeming with country-folk-turned-locals or just locals seeking shelter to drink away their January boredom and fend off the stir crazy. The most annoying part is the neighborhood bar you love for being quirky that's filled with that one guy who brought 20 of his out-of-town frat brothers in for a visit because what else is going on right now.
I'm looking at you, Walt's. I mean, I just want to karaoke to some Lionel Ritchie with a few cheap drinks without getting ogled by random dudes -- is that too much to ask?
So, in the spirit of the raucous irresponsibility and desperation that this season inadvertently tends to bring, let me suggest a lesser-known, yet equally awesome Baltimore dive you might have overlooked: Lil' Phil's. Specifically, Lil' Phil's and their $1 Jell-O shots. Classy? Not at all. But as the sign above the bar boasts, "Ain't nothing fancy here." Hey, at least they warn you.
I don't even think you can make Jell-O shots at your house for $1 anymore, to be honest, so already, Phil's is an economically sound decision. But that's not what it was about for my crew on our visit. Instead, they had me at their novelty. The names of the shots include Limey Down and Cherry Poppins. Uh, again — remember the sign.
In these nights for catching up with friends, we were all a-giggle deciding whether we were still "childish" enough to actually order Jell-O at a bar. Lil' Phil's took us back to being broke college students with nothing to lose; the shot still holds the same lore, eleven years later.
So which to order for yourself? Why not try them all? They taste just like you'd expect and remember: strong. But similar to riding a vomit-inducing roller coaster, you'll forget the effects ten seconds later when you find yourself asking, "Wanna do that again?"
Lil' Phil's is a no-frills, pool-table-and-cheap-beer kind of place. The owner, Phil Osika, admitted he was just tired of theme bars that he felt complicated the simplicity of why customers come out to bars (although Lil' Phil's also has karaoke, on Tuesdays). "Stop in, have fun, take a cab home," he shrugged.
And that's that. Though it's implied, he forgot to add, "Party like you're 21 years old today."
How to Make $1 Jell-O Shots
3 oz. Jell-O (one 4-serving package)
8 oz. boiling water
3 oz. cold water
8 oz. vodka
Chill the liquor and cold water mix in the refrigerator for 1 hour prior. Boil water, in gelatin until completely dissolved. Stir in chilled liquor and water. Pour into plastic shot cups, refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
Where to Get $1 Jell-O Shots
706 S. Broadway, Fells Point