Pickle brine lends a refreshing tanginess to cocktails, as mixologists get increasingly inventive in how they use ingredients. Here are five places to enjoy pickle brine drinks.
Pickled & Dirty at Crimson & Rye, New York, New York
Max Malouf, head bartender of Crimson & Rye, created the Pickled & Dirty with Ketel One vodka, Dolin Dry, olive and pickle brine, pink pearl onion, and olives. “The Pickled and Dirty was on the opening menu and it has been so successful that we’ve never taken it off,” he says. “The inspiration behind it was that we wanted to have not just a basic dirty martini but to add a pickle brine to it.” The pickle and olive brine are both made in-house. A 2:1 pickle brine to olive brine ratio gives the drink a pickle-forward taste that’s balanced by the vermouth. Make a reservation at Crimson & Rye.
The Bushwick at Outlier, Seattle, Washington
Lead bartender John Walter created this drink as an homage to the Bushwick Country Club in Brooklyn, which invented the pickle back. “My take on it starts with pickle brine frozen into a golf ball-shaped ice cube, and the drink itself is like a shandy-boilermaker hybrid, made with light beer, whiskey, and lemon juice,” he says. “The cocktail gets a nice salinity and kick from the brine as it melts.” Make a reservation at Outlier.
Soy Pickleback International Smoke, San Francisco, California
International Smoke’s bar and kitchen work together to pair flavored pickle brines with complementary spirits. Pairings include the “Moroccan,” a turmeric and Yemenite curry brine paired with Buffalo Trace Bourbon; the “Soy,” a lime, soy, and yuzu brine paired with Suntory Toki Whisky; and the “Taqueria Style” a jalapeño, carrot brine paired with Espolòn Blanco Tequila. Make a reservation at International Smoke.
909 Triple Play at Scarlet Oak, Washington, D.C.
The 909 Triple Play includes a trio of drinks: a Jameson shot, PBR, and a pickle back (pickle brine). “As we were coming up with our initial cocktail menu, seeing that we are so close to the Washington Nationals stadium, we wanted to intersect the two concepts of cocktails and baseball … and the 909 Triple Play was born!” says partner and general manager Brian Schram. “909 being our address and the Jameson shot/pickle back/PBR referring to the triple play.” Make a reservation at Scarlet Oak.
Traveler’s Terrace at Sable Kitchen & Bar, Chicago, Illinois
This drink combines Yamazaki (Japanese whiskey), Plantation Run, East India Sherry, Chardonnay, a dropper of pickling liquid, and two dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters. “This cocktail was created by combining flavors from all over the world to comprise an interesting riff on the ‘Perfect Manhattan,’” says bartender Laura Kruming. “The rich, savory notes of Japanese Whisky, combined with the richness of the Rum and Sherry, are a great starting point with this cocktail. The Chardonnay and pickling juice add notes of fruit and tannin that lift this cocktail.” Make a reservation at Sable Kitchen & Bar.
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Susan Johnston Taylor is an Austin-based freelance writer who’s covered food and business for publications including The Boston Globe, Civil Eats, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fresh Cup, and Pizza Today. Follow her @UrbanMuseWriter.
Photo credits: K. McCullough (International Smoke); Adela Lee (Outlier).