Calling all pickle lovers! (And any whiskey drinkers out there, too.) There's a new drink sensation you might want to try.
This may not be earth-shattering news, but there is a small movement growing in the drinks world. If you love pickles, you will want to grab your board and jump onto the wave. Even those of you who don't like pickles may want to paddle around a bit in these pickle juice waters.
When we went to Raymond's staff party a couple weeks ago, our host and bartender (thanks, Scott) introduced us to the 'Pickleback'.
What's that? you ask. So simple really.
You take a shot of whiskey, and immediately after - you take a shot of straight-up pickle juice. Yep, that stuff drained from a jar of mouth-puckering dills.
And that's it. You've just had a new taste experience. You'll feel the warmth of the whiskey radiating through your insides, but your mouth will be tingling and fresh and you'll feel like smacking your lips and doing a little pickle dance.
Or if you're me, you'll just want to have another shot of pickle juice - maybe throw back a tumbler of it like it was cool drink on a hot day . . .
After coming home from the party, I was intrigued and had to do a little research. It turns out this Pickleback really is a 'thing'. (Not just a crazy northern Canadian invention discovered during some red-necked bush party after the mix ran out and there was still booze to be drained from the bottles.) The name was coined by Reggie Cunningham in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2006, but not surprisingly, the Pickleback has been around long before it was officially named. There's even some unofficial science to suggest that the acetic acid in vinegar works to absorb salt, reduce hangovers, and prevent cramps (in case your arm cramps up from shooting back the juice - obviously!)
I'm not a big whiskey drinker - in fact, I'm not even a little whiskey drinker. But I did have to try a Pickleback. Curiosity got the better of me. And even though I only had about a quarter inch of whiskey in my shot glass that first time I tried it - I did get the effect. It was the pickle juice that won me over. I've since had a full shot of the whiskey, just for research purposes, of course 😉 and I can report that I'm still standing (and haven't grown any hair on my chest).
The urge to have a shot of pickle juice straight from the jar doesn't ever hit me ordinarily, but have that shot of whiskey first and the pickle juice right after, and it's a little bit magical. The pickle juice helps neutralize the taste of the whiskey and the burn of the alcohol.
A word of advice - this is not where you want to slurp the juice from a jar of vinegary supermarket pickles, the kind that's intensely yellow and sour. Nor do you want to slurp the sickeningly sweet juice from sugar-laden bread & butter pickles. In fact, you want the lovely salty brine from a jar of really good pickles, preferably artisanal or homemade ones, with no added ingredients but cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, and dill or garlic.
And your whiskey should be a Canadian rye - because that's the good stuff, made from Canadian prairie-grown grain. You don't want to use that expensive bottle of scotch for your pickleback experience; a decent, everyday bottle of rye will do.
(Don't worry if you haven't got, or can't drink, rye whiskey - you can chase any kind of whiskey or scotch with a shot of pickle juice for a novel taste experience - the Canadian rye is just my personal uninformed-whiskey-drinker suggestion 🙂 )
So, if you want an unashamedly red-neck and slightly funky drink to kick off your holiday festivities or to toast in the New Year - give the Pickleback a shot (pun intended).
- 1 shot* of any kind of whiskey (Canadian Rye being my suggestion)
- 1 shot* of pickle brine from a jar of good quality dill pickles (preferably homemade or artisanal, not sweet ones)
Pour an equal-sized shot of whiskey and pickle brine into two shot glasses or small tumblers.
Drink the whiskey in one swallow, then follow it immediately with the pickle brine.
Feel the warmth and enjoy the zesty pickle aftertaste.
There, you've now had a Pickleback.
Serves one, as many times as you'd like to repeat the experience (though I'm not responsible for any results after that first shot.)
*a shot of alcoholic beverage containing 40% alcohol is 1.5 fl oz or 43ml. A pony shot is 1 oz/30ml, but of course you can just pour equal amounts of the two into small glasses.
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