Picklebacks

Guys. So. When we went back to the US last summer, we heard that everyone in Philly was drinking picklebacks. We went to this place called Sidecar to wait for some friends and ended up trying all four of the picklebacks on their menu. We were so hooked!

In case you haven’t had the chance to try a pickleback yet, it’s generally a shot of whiskey chased with a shot of pickle juice. Only some people are super creative so they are doing variations like shots of tequila chased with shots of brine from salsa, whatever. Just something salty and sour chasing something hard. Mmm.

We wanted to recreate that experience for our friends in Taiwan. You can get commercially made pickles here, but everybody online says not to use that juice: it’s too salty, there are too many additives, and so on. We couldn’t find all the spices we needed, like mustard seed, here in Zhongli, so I just ordered a bag of premixed pickling spices from iherb.com. I’ve never really pickled anything before and I wanted to start off with something easy. Also, some customers reviewed the products and said they didn’t like the cinnamon chips in the mix, but I thought that sounded like it would be real good in a shot you are supposed to drink.

We’ve made big batches of pickle juice for picklebacks three times now. We were kinda fudging the recipe until I found this magic ratio: equal parts vinegar and water and four times the sugar to salt. It was like SO MUCH SALT and EVEN MORE SUGAR, but in the end the pickle juice was almost pleasant to drink. It made for a nice, bracing chaser without making your eyes twitch from the acidity of the vinegar.

For the most part, our friends have loved the picklebacks, with the exception of people who really don’t like pickles. Also, unexpectedly, our Taiwanese friends seems to like picklebacks even more than our Western friends. I had thought the unfamiliar spices wouldn’t resonate with them.

A big jar of pickle juice can disappear pretty fast once we start pouring as most people will ask for seconds. Our bar-owner friends started thinking about other drinks, like dirty martinis, they could mix with pickle juice. It was really great to feel like we were inspiring people to be creative with new ingredients.

It went way better than the time J was trying to convince every one to put chocolate on their blue cheese. That’s delicious, no joke, but even I can see how it’s not for everyone.

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