What is a Pickleback?

03 Sep, 2018

You’ve heard of wine and cheese, tequila and lime, and even whisk(e)y and cola, but what about whiskey and pickle brine? This dynamic duo is quickly joining the list of classic combinations and is a definite must-try. Skeptical? This trend of chasing bourbon with pickle juice has gained momentum in bars across the globe and is even backed by science! Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the ‘Pickleback’!

The Man, The Myth and the Legend of Pickleback

In 2006, a bartender named Reggie at Bushwick Country Club took shots of Old Crow bourbon, washed them down with pickle brine, and called it a “pickleback.” This bar in Brooklyn claims the creation of this shot, and over the last decade, the pickleback has become a sensation far beyond the New York neighborhood. Bars all across the US and Europe now serve versions of the original pickleback. One bar in London now features the shot with their own pickle brine made in-house, offering different flavors for different palates.

Pickleback, Bushwick Country Club

The roots of the Pickleback

Although this shot was officially recognized just twelve years ago, the pickleback has roots far past Reggie’s own imagination. The conversation surrounding the shot’s original history often mentions Southern tradition. There are many who claim that those of the Deep South have been shooting whiskey and pickle brine for generations. This controversy about the pickleback’s origins also extends to its composition. The self-proclaimed Brooklyn birthplace swears by Old Crow Kentucky bourbon for the perfect shot. Others claim that the Irish touch of Jameson is the way to go. Despite this dispute, most agree that a quality, craft pickle brine is the only way to properly finish it off. But why pickle brine?

The science of the brine

Pickle brine is a perfect companion to a strong bite of whiskey. The salty, sour sip plays off the savory depth of whiskey, creating a balance of flavors. Like a spoonful of sugar to medicine, pickle brine can help even the roughest whiskey go down. But it’s not just the taste that makes brine a great companion for alcohol.

Legend has it that Reggie was hungover at the creation of the pickleback. According to several scientific studies and verified by the ever-popular Dr. Oz, pickle juice is a highly effective hangover cure. The salt and vinegar of the brine replenishes your morning-after electrolytes and rehydrates the body. Even a small bit of the highly-concentrated pickle power can kick your headaches, body aches, and dizziness to the curb.

What does this science mean for pickleback lovers? Will taking swigs of this magical brine right after shots of whiskey prevent any next-day aches and pains? There is only one way to find out. Dare your friends to a couple pickleback rounds and let us know!

Has this spiked your interest in the more bizarre types of alcohol out there? If so, read our feature on The World’s Weirdest Whiskies. For those after something a bit more down to earth, how about a guided tour and tastings at one of Scotland’s oldest gems; Blair Athol Distillery?

Join our mailing list to stay up to date on our top travel tips and giveaways