Although no one is sure where the Pickleback came from, the actual term Pickleback was introduced by New York bartender Reggie Cunningham in 2007. In his original recipe, Cunningham used a shot of Old Crow bourbon and a shot of spicy pickle brine from a jar of McClure’s spicy dills. This unique drink sensation is picking up speed at “trendy” bars in cities across the country and is even receiving national press attention. The added benefit…pickle juice is an age-old remedy for the hangover.
McClure’s now packages their brine specifically for this purpose and the world is a better place for it. For those that prefer vodka as their spirit of choice, McClure’s even sells a Bloody Mary mix made with tomato paste and fresh pressed cucumber that stars their spicy pickle brine.
Traditional Pickle Back Recipe:
- 1 shot bourbon
- 1/2 to 1 shot Mclure’s Pickle brine (well shaken)
- Drink the bourbon and wait 3 seconds before chasing it with the brine.
Variations: Jameson Irish Whiskey can be substituted for the bourbon. Also, try using the brine from your favorite jar of pickles, just make sure to shake the jar well before pouring your chaser.
To ensure a comprehensive review of the Pickleback, it was necessary for me to complete multiple tastings. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day next week, and because I prefer whiskey, I used Jameson as my base liquor.
- The first shot hit me like a slap in the face and left my lips puckered and face contorted for a full 60 seconds. The flavor profile that was left was of pickle brine only, no hint of whiskey remained.
- For the second shot, I knew what to expect and braced myself for impact. I also reduced the amount of brine to half a shot. The flavors of the two ingredients melded more with this attempt and left a softer taste in my mouth.
- With the third tasting, I shook the jar extra well to better incorporate the bits of dill and red pepper flakes floating in the brine. I also let the whiskey sit and develop a nice burn in my mouth before I chased it with the brine shot. The shot instantly removed the burn, and the salty vinegar mixed with the warm whiskey left a great aftertaste.
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