Move over dirty Martini and elaborate Bloody Mary garnish. There are way more interesting cocktails that feature a pickle, or some sibling element. Keen bartenders know they should always have some brine at the ready, whether it’s pickle juice, olive juice, or some kind of jar-aged vegetable.
The best news is that you probably have something like this just kicking around in your fridge or pantry already. It doesn’t need to be fancy; most brines will do. In fact, as usual, we encourage you to experiment at home. You can sub in the juice from some of your favorite condiments more times than not, utilizing the liquid in sauerkraut, capers, and more. The salinity and vegetal notes will add a whole new layer to your cocktail enjoyment, or you could just give it a shot and learn how to ferment your own pickles. It’s quick, easy, and delicious.
If you like salty things, you’re in the right place. Here are some of the best pickled cocktails to fashion and sip on at home.
The Whiskey Sour is built for the pickle. The mix of caramel and dried fruit notes from the bourbon, along with citrus, does wonders with the greener flavors of the brine. Consider it a classy upgrade to the once-fashionable pickleback shot of whiskey.
- 1.5 oz bourbon
- .5 oz pickle juice
- juice of half a small lemon
- garnish with lemon, cornichon or rosemary, and Old Bay seasoning
- Combine bourbon, pickle juice, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice
- Shake until cold
- Run a lemon slice around the rims of two cocktail glasses, then dip the rims in Old Bay
- Pour the bourbon mixture into glasses and add garnishes
This drink is autumnal and eye-catching, popping with the deep purple of beet juice. It’s likely it will replace your glass of wine or beer as you wait for your Thanksgiving turkey to fully cook.
- 1.5 parts Absolut Vodka
- .75 part beet brine
- 3 parts cranberry juice
- Pour vodka, leftover beet brine, and cranberry juice into a highball glass filled with ice cubes.
- Stir and garnish with pickled beet.
A smoky and extra salty take on the Margarita, this drink delivers tropical notes, spicy notes, sour, and savory elements. It’ll stretch your palate out in all the right ways.
(Created by Megan Lechner)
- 1 oz blanco tequila
- 1.5 oz mezcal
- 2.5 slices pickled mango
- 3 tbsp pickled mango brine
- Juice of half a lime
- Tajín to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Strain into an ice-filled, Tajín-rimmed rocks glass, pressing the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve with the back of a spoon.
A real classic among cocktails, the Gibson is a lot like a gin martini. As such, it can go the dirty route. And, because this is a piece about pickled cocktails, we’ve done just that with this recipe.
- 2 oz gin
- .5 oz dry vermouth
- .5 oz olive juice
- Pickled onion for garnish
- Add ingredients to tin, shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with pickled onion.
Here’s a great riff on the Tom Collins via Bon Appétit by way of the late and great Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis. It’s a little Nordic, meaning it’s more than ready for the chilly, dark days ahead.
- 2 tsp simple syrup
- .25 cup aquavit (we like Krogstad)
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp dill pickle brine
- Pour simple syrup, aquavit, fresh lime juice, and dill pickle brine, in the order listed, into an 11-oz. highball glass filled with ice cubes.
- Top with seltzer.
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