In Defense of Picklebacks: Why it's fine to embrace the brine
There might not be another alcoholic beverage out there that stokes more polarizing (and mostly negative) opinions than the pickleback. Coined in 2006, the pickleback is named after a centuries-old tradition of chasing a shot of whiskey with pickle brine. Gordy’s Pickle Jar in Washington, D.C. recently announced that they will begin selling their pickle brine in cans, giving pickleback lovers like myself reason to jump with unbridled joy (Bloody Mary lovers, you can join in too). Being that the target audience for canned pickle juice is clearly cocktail enthusiasts, I am confident that the pickleback is actually a legit thing to be into (there was for sure a moment when I was questioning my own taste buds). And I feel it’s high time I share my passion for the pickle and explain why this briny beauty is worth another taste.
Here is the glory of this combo: The acidic, vinegary notes from the pickle juice immediately counteract and overpower any lingering hints of the whiskey, leaving your palate squeaky clean. It's a real teamwork makes the dream work scenario. I’ve witnessed some of the absolute worst shot-takers throw one of these back in effortless bewilderment. Now, when I’m feeling extra ballsy, I like to order a ~spicy~ pickleback, because the added heat contributes a kick that I appreciate in my chaser. Plus, feeling like I’m a fire-breathing dragon in the bar is surprisingly enjoyable. Although a strong, briny flavor in your mouth may not seem ideal for social situations, I would encourage you to remember that most people won't have minty-fresh breath while imbibing. Embrace it. Own it. Be brave.
From my experience, the most common pickleback hater is the person that has never tried one. Too off-put by the thought of swallowing a salty swish of pickle juice after a shot of liquor, they won’t even give it a chance. To that level of hater, I implore you--take that leap of faith and don’t look back. In my mind, the only valid justification for disliking the pickleback is that you genuinely don’t like pickles to begin with. Having a strong aversion to pickles is a separate issue that you likely need to address, but it's true--there is no escaping the pungent pickled flavor of a pickleback. Anti-pickle people, you are pardoned from liking the pickleback. However, if you’re a fan of the salty preserved cukes, then there is actually no excuse for your disapproval.
Point being--you ought to branch out and give the pickleback a chance. On top of it’s unrivaled salty-savory-acidic greatness, the juice is said to be the perfect elixir to cure a hangover. Folks, that is a message from your future next-morning self, telling you to have one. Or maybe a couple.