BOURBON WITH A PICKLEBACK?!?!
After consulting with Senior Bartender at the Drink and Dagger, Tony, I was advised not to publish this article. That’s exactly why I am publishing this article.
If you are a Scotch fan, you are already familiar with the pickle back, but if you are a long time bourbon drinker, the thought of having anything back your bourbon is offensive.
I understand! I dont even want ice in my bourbon!
However, if you have ever choked down a shot of Old Crow or Prichards – whose nose resembles swamp gas and whose viscosity is similar to baby oil, you WILL appreciate a pickle back. The brine turns an almost impossible imbibe into a burst of flavor.
Max Watman, author of “Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventures in Moonshine” fleshes out the pickle back in this Huffington Post article:
The pickleback is a simple thing: a shot of whiskey chased by a shot (or a half a shot) or pickle brine. It seems safe to bet that might have been first served at the Bushwick Country Club, where they use Old Crow bourbon and brine from McClure’s Spicy Dills. It’s taken off, and gets written up appearing at good, popular bars on both coasts. At Elixir in San Francisco, owner H. Joseph Ehrmann serves his house barrel of Buffalo Trace whiskey. (For the record, I’ve had the whiskey from the barrel he chose, and it doesn’t need backing, it’s phenomenal.) At the Rusty Knot in Manhattan, they serve Jameson’s.
I spoke to John Wiseman, who is partnering with the Ruotolo brothers to open a new place in Williamsburg called The Whiskey Brooklyn. Picklebacks will feature prominently, he says, and they’ll go along well with the coolers of canned beer you’ll be able to order, and the shuffle board tables. The coolers aren’t ironic, insists John: “It’s about function. You don’t have to fight your way back to the bar.”
The pickleback is an odd trend for the cocktail world. There is no mixing, there are no housemade tinctures, no rarified ingredients. There isn’t even any ice.
At my current home bar, I was tasked with raising liquor sales Q2 2013. Normally, bartenders will run riduculous drink specials, craft heinous signature cocktails, or just jack up prices to accomplish the feat. After a short orientation, I noticed 3 cases of Old Crow collecting dust behind the bar and dry heaved in revultion.
And then…EUREKA! Pair a shot of Old Crow with pickle back, tack an extra buck on while using juice that we would otherwise throw out, and get rid of excess liquor inventory.
The result? A whiskey that no one would touch has become a best-seller ($3 bucks a shot with pickleback), and brings in an extra $400 a week with no other changes made behind the bar!
Don’t knock it till you try it. If your bartender doesn’t carry pickleback, try one of these three: