Those who consume pickle juice do so for its supposed health benefits: preventing muscle cramps and increasing post-workout hydration. Across the globe, pickle juice is also known as a chaser for alcohol, better known as the pickleback. Typically chasing whiskey, pickle brine should neutralize the taste of alcohol while simultaneously burning it off. Like olive juice, pickle juice also makes its way into cocktails.
People who love them seem to really love them---particularly enjoying the two-for-one-punch electrolyte hangover cure plus cocktail bargain. Dylan Stewart, general manager and beverage director at The Ruin Daily, Chicago's West Loop all-day boozy deli, believes picklebacks and pickle juice cocktails have grown in popularity because they're very specific.
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"I am all for drinking pickle juice for health benefits," says Stewart. "It has a strong flavor and is super acidic so it can be used as a balancing agent and primary flavor component. Plus it will hydrate you, but there's a lot of salt in pickle juice, so always use in moderation."
-- Dylan Stewart, GM and Beverage Director at The Ruin Daily
On average, one fluid ounce of pickle juice contains 25 calories, .1 gram of fat, and 877mg of sodium. Sodium is ample in pickle juice. Being that it is an electrolyte, it can help our body maintain normal cell function. Although studies have found that pickle juice can reduce cramping, it supposedly did not improve aerobic performance, so it's still questionable for boosting rehydration.
But there's no question that pickle lovers will enjoy pickle-based cocktails.
Stewart is the creator of the Hatchback cocktail. "It all started with a bottle of dill aquavit," he says. "Sometimes you taste a spirit and just know that you have to create a cocktail around it; this was one of those times." His Hatchback cocktail is a classy spin on the pickleback, consisting of Tattersall Dill Aquavit as well as house-made pickle juice for an extra kick.
Lean In: It's super acidic, use it as a source of acid, much like you would citrus.
Balance:Pickle juice needs to be balanced by a healthy amount of sugar and sweetness.
Moderation: A little goes a long way.
What Grows Together, Goes Together: Use ingredients you'd pickle as a garnish. Don't mix with eggs or dairy---they do not play well together.
Trade Secret: Pickle juice is traditionally served next to brown spirits, but I think it makes the most sense with clear spirits---gin and mezcal in particular.
Photo Courtesy of The Ruin Daily
Preparation: Combine ingredients in mixing glass, add ice; stir. Strain into a rocks glass that has been misted with orange flower water. Add ice and garnish with a dill frond around the inside of the glass, like half of a Roman crown.
As far as pickle juice goes, there's not a Bloody Mary in the world that can't be improved by a little bit of dill. Add some pickle juice to your favorite Bloody Mary recipe for an added kick.
Preparation: Combine ingredients; serve in a Mason Jar filled with ice. Garnish with pickle.
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