There are times in life when unabashed excitement overtakes you. You just can’t help but be happy. Winning a sports championship, for example, or finding a bottle of Pappy in a deceased relative’s liquor cabinet (minus the deceased relative part). We would argue, too, that the when the news broke a few months ago that Sonic would be releasing a pickle slush was also one of these times.
The thought of pickle juice — with its saline, vinegary joy — made into a slush sounded incredibly promising. Why wouldn’t it? We drink goses and their ilk to feel refreshed. Runners use pickle juice all the time to recover. Same principles here. I had high hopes. It was a time of infinite joy and possibility. This could be the drink of the summer. What could possibly go wrong with a pickle juice slush?
If you’re Sonic, a lot. Like, all of it.
Let’s start with the color. These are pickles:
This is Behr’s Dill Pickle paint:
This is a Sonic Pickle Juice Slush:
That, friends, is an unnatural shade of green. That is not pickle green. That’s toxic waste on The Simpsons green. That is a clarion call to all that are sane in the world that says, “Beware! There are no pickles here.”
One cannot judge a Sonic Pickle Juice Slush on sight alone, however. You can however, judge it one look and smell.
That’s what this slush smells like. Sweet, sweet sadness.
Have you ever been to a carnival at the end of the night, when the midway is littered with everything from wisps of cotton candy stuck to a half-eaten deep-fried corn dogs? Imagine if you took a pickle slice (which would fallen out of a doughnut burger, obviously) and rolled it in the powdered sugar from the chunk of elephant ear that some toddler flung carelessly at (but not into) a trash can. That’s what this slush smells like. Sweet, sweet sadness. You can tell it has some semblance of pickle in it, but that is covered up by the saccharine hopes and dreams of a company banking on people’s love of all things pickle.
That sweetness on the nose carries through immediately on the palate. It should not be surprisingly that a slush is sweet, I know, but there was a slim, slim hope that this would not be a typical slush. I was still holding out that this would something like Pickle Ice. Those hopes? Dashed. Dashed hard and dashed quickly.
If you want to know what the slush tastes like, go into your pantry and find the bag of confectioners sugar. Then, go in your fridge and find the jar of bread and butter pickles. Coat a pickle slice in said sugar, pop it in your mouth, and chew. Try not to scream in abject horror. The mix of sweet and almost salty is abysmal. There’s pickle flavor there, but barely. It’s as if whoever created this monstrosity of a product had never actually eaten one, but merely looked at a child’s drawing of a pickle and went, “Got it! I know the flavor!”
As it turns out, booze does not make everything better
It’s hard to conceive of how this one got through the development stages. Were there other iterations that tasted less like pickle? Did they even try it themselves? One taste of this and it’s hard to say that they did indeed try their own product before unleashing this fresh green hell. But, having made it through the tasting, I still held onto a small amount of hope that this experiment could be saved. What if I added booze, I thought. Booze makes everything better.
Narrator: As it turns out, booze does not make everything better.
(Beware from this point on. Booze was harmed in the making of this article.)
I started with whiskey — because picklebacks — but oh, how was I wrong. I went with Wild Turkey Longbranch because I figured the mesquite notes might make a little bit of barbecue magic. They did not. Instead, the caramel and vanilla flavors made the concoction even sweeter. On the plus side, adding whiskey did make it actually look like pickle juice, so there’s that.
Next up was vodka. Good ol’ vodka. There are times when having something a neutral spirit is great. This was not one of them. That’s really all that can be said.
Third, I decided to switch it up and use one of my favorite liqueurs, Ancho Reyes Verde. I figured the spice might cut through the sweet disease that was slowly creeping over my palate. The spiciness was nice, but again the sweetness shined bright like a pickle freaking diamond. This was a miscalculation on my part, as I got too excited by the spice to remember the sweet body of the liqueur.
The only spirit that did make any sort of difference was mezcal. Big, bold, smoky, and not sweet at all, the flavors of this agave spirit broke through to make a palatable drink. Not a great drink, but a palatable one. Sort of.
Sure, you can make the argument that this is a slush, so it should be sweet and blah, blah, blah, but I think the missteps in Sonic’s creation process (i.e. apparently never actually tasting a real pickle) doomed this slush from the start. You’re better off getting some regular old pickle juice and throwing some crushed ice in it if you want a pickle juice slush this summer.