You know one thing that remains under-appreciated at bars? The Pickleback. If you don’t already know, a Pickleback is a drink in which you chase a shot of whiskey with a shot of pickle juice. Usually I have to force people to do them with me. But not only are they fun, they also balance each other out well.
This got me thinking about how pickle juice isn’t utilized in cocktails enough. That’s not to say that it isn’t used at all, but it doesn’t get a wide variety of uses and the pickle juice itself rarely gets the same thought put into it that, say, selecting a liquor would. In a recent chat with Marie Teckmyer from Happy Hour Collection, we decided it would be fun to try to come up with some interesting cocktail recipes using some awesome local pickles. Okay fine, it was more like I dared her. But of course Marie is always up for a collaborative challenge.
We of course wanted to use Randy’s Pickles for this. If you haven’t had them, I recommend you try one or all of them. They’re way better than your typical store-bought jars of boring bland dill. My favorite is definitely the Sideburns ones, so that’s where I started with the drinky drinky recipes.
Sideburns pickles are grilled to give them a cool smokey flavor, which always remind me a bit of burgers. And burgers have pickles on them anyway! It was perfect. Except for, uh, having to figure out how to make a drink taste like a burger and not be gross.
So BARE WITH ME on this one, okay? I know it sounds a bit strange. But I actually went through a lot of testing and variations on this one to get it to taste right. It’s definitely interesting and makes a fun one to serve your friends. It would probably be good for a cook out too, so I’ll have to try that like 10 months from now when its summer again. I’d say it does really taste reminiscent of a burger, and it plays nicely with the booze too. I went with the classic whiskey from the Picklebacks on this one. I also chose to top mine with an adorable mini cheeseburger just to highlight the theme.
For her first drink, Marie went much more elegant with a dill pickle martini. It’s simple and, like most of her cocktail recipes, strong: It also has a refreshing tanginess from the pickle. Plus I just love dill, as you can probably tell from the fact that I garnished her drink with a giant dill frond in the photo. Marie chose Randy’s Deli Style Dill pickles to use the juice from, sticking with the classic theme. This one makes me feel sophisticated but still with a fun element.
I tried to tone down my next drink a little too, and I turned to one of my great loves–the margarita. Much like Marie’s martini, the pickle here makes it extra refreshing. Randy’s Spicy Dill pickles seemed like the perfect choice here since that hint of spice in the juice fits so well with the tacos usually scarfed down with a good marg. You can make this drink the classic way or frozen, whichever you prefer.
Lastly, Marie went the extra mile and utilized some other local Cleveland favorites in her second drink. She combined Platform Beer’s New Cleveland Palesner and the much-loved Pope’s Mellow Mary Mix to make a really great michelada. Her choice of pickle on this one was Randy’s Mustache on Fire. Those ones are spicier than the spicy dill in my margarita, but they do have a nice flavor behind the heat too. That spice and depth worked really well for Marie in this nice cold cocktail. We also determined a whole slice of the same pickles works perfectly as a snack/garnish, because if the heat starts to build too much you can cool off with another sip of the michelada. This seems like a great one to drink after a rough day at work.
I really hope you find your adventurous side and make one or all 4 of these, or try out your own pickle cocktail idea! Like I said, the original goal here was to highlight pickle juice as a solid booze companion. And as always, if you do try any of our recipes, I would get a kick out of seeing it, as I’m sure would Marie and Randy’s Pickles. Tag me on Instagram @nhubble or use the hashtag #followthatfork, and you can tag Mary and Randy’s @happyhourcle and @randyspickles respectively.