It’s National Pickle Day! Yes, we understand that is not a real holiday. But, look, we’ll take any opportunity to talk abut our favorite briny treat. Is it possible to combine alcohol and the pickle? Yes, it is. Here, we explore everything from the Pickleback shot to pickle beer to get you set for Pickle Day.
When it comes to to brine drinks, the Pickelback is the undisputed king of the
hill dill. Modern lore is that the trendy shot was first served by Reggie Cunningham in 2006 and then grew out of the hipster bar scene in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. However, any self respecting Texan will tell you that within the Lonestar State pickle juice chasers are as old and venerated as the Alamo itself. Try one for yourself; it’s just a shot of whiskey with a shot of pickle juice back. The specifics are somewhat superfluous, but the original served by Cunningham was a shot of Old Crow followed by a shot of McClure’s pickle brine.
Across town, NYC’s Ditch Plains took dill drinks to the next level with their Pickled Surfer. The hipster fish shack cum bar is renowned for the house made bread and butter pickles. So, they decided to use their brine to kick the pickleback up a notch into an actual cocktail. Check out the recipe below.
- 1 1/2 oz. Whiskey
- 1/2 oz. Bread and butter pickle juice,
- 2 Pickle slices
- 1/2 oz. Lime juice
- 1 Lime wedge
- Old Bay seasoning for garnish (optional)
Combine whiskey, pickle juice, and lime juice in a shaker. Shake until chilled. Strain into a lowball glass. Add ice. Garnish with pickle slices, lime wedge, and Old Bay.
Of course, the best way to make a pickle cocktail is to dispose of the novelties and focus on the flavors. In this case, the closest flavor profile to pickle brine is olive brine—the key ingredient in a Dirty Martini. If you like that flavor, you’ll probably love a Dirty Martini with the olive juice simply swapped out for pickle juice.
Minnesota’s Barley John Brewing Company made big waves introducing a Dill Pickle Beer, replete with horseradish and fresh dull ingredients, this summer. Despite a surge of national press, Barley John owner, John Moore isn’t sure whether he will be brewing any more batches of pickle pints. “Dill is really hard to get out of draft lines. Just like root beer, you would need a designated line,” he told the Today Show.
However, Denver is miles ahead on the pickle beer front. Since 2015, locals have been enjoying Birth of Cool, a collaboration between Spangalang Brewing and The Real Dill pickle company. Spangalong’s Taylor Rees chose a gose as the base. Goses are old style, sour German wheat beers that employ a lactic fermentation process. However, what makes the gose such a good match is their characteristic salty flavor. Birth of Cool does use contain actual pickles; instead a mix of cucumber juice, pickling salt, and coriander is added to the brew just 24 hours before kegging.
For a really in-depth look at pickles in beer, check out this deep dive by Andy Sparhawk.
Thankfully, we could not find any pickle wines. However, our crack research team did turn up some consolations prizes.
No pickle wine? No worries? You can fake it with custom labels from Zazzle. The on-demand print site offers 3.5″ x 4” labels reading “Kind of a Big Dill” along with an image of a pickle. According to the manufacturer, the “easy peel-and-stick method” (that means stickers) is perfectly sized to smack on your favorite wine bottle.
Devotees claim that pickles can cure a hangover. You can also prevent a hangover by not over-drinking. Fred & Friends can help with that via their Pickled Wine Bottle Stopper. The 100% silicone bottle top is advertised as the perfect way to “stick a pickle in it.” Or, if you want to drink more, check out Fred’s Pickled Corkscrew.
Then, there are dill notes in actual wine. Kathy DiPietro, over at Wine On Wednesday, picked up lots of pickle flavors while drinking Rosenblum Vintner’s Cuvee Zinfandel. The unexpected flavors inspired her to explore the potential for dill flavors in other zinfandels. You can check out her trip down the rabbit hole here.