Pickle juice. We repeat, pickle juice
A few years ago some nutter in a Brooklyn bar downed a shot of whisky followed by a shot of juice from a pickle jar, and branded it the pickleback. What (probably) started off as a dare ended up sweeping the city’s bar scene, where no self-respecting hipster would be seen ordering anything else.
The trend for the noxious-sounding double header escalated – and, we imagine, caused a shortage in pickles across the nation. So when Florence Cherruault visited New York on holiday from the UK, she realised two things 1) She wanted to bring the drink back to Blighty and 2) We were going to need an awful lot of pickles. The solution? Pickle juice.
Photo: The Pickle House
OK – so how do you juice a pickle?
Well, you don’t actually, so put away that juicer. Florence’s company, The Pickle House, is currently one of the only places to buy pickle juice in the country (£7.50 for a 500ml bottle), and pretty tasty it is too; a sort of tangy, sweet and sour flavour combo. Florence says, “We make it from a base of malt vinegar with salt, sugar, loads of different spices, one of which is turmeric, which gives it a nice orange colour. Then I add the cucumbers and brew it for about 12 weeks so all the nice flavour from inside the cucumber is brought out.”
Do you have to drink it as part of a pickleback?
Nope. In fact, one of the most popular ways to serve pickle juice is in a Bloody Mary. Florence says, “The Bloody Mary is by far everyone’s favourite brunch drink, and adding pickle juice to it adds another dimension in flavour. When we make them, we add about a third pickle juice to two-thirds spicy tomato juice and that works really well. Pickle juice is really good for a hangover as it has loads of electrolytes from the vinegar and salts. So a pickle juice Bloody Mary should sort you out completely.” Bonus.
So it’s actually good for you?
Yep – the electrolytes are great if you've been working out as they replace lost salts, plus the turmeric has nutritional benefits too. If you can face doing a shot in the morning, it would certainly wake you up, but Florence says you can also add it to juice. “There’s a juice bar in Peckham called Ali Baba and they do a juice which is pickle juice with mango.” Hmmm, certainly makes a change from a glass of OJ…
What other drinks is it good in?
Any whisky cocktails can be perked up with a pep of pickle (try saying that after a few bevvies). The guys at Hawksmoor came up with a pickled whisky ginger cocktail with a twist of lime and honey.
Are people actually drinking it?
Yes – but by all accounts it has a bit of a Marmite thing going on. Florence explains, “If there’s a group of people trying it, it’s split in the middle with people who love or hate it. But people always want to try it again and get their friends to try it to see their response. Then there are the people who totally love it – I’ve had people come up to me and say, 'Thank you so much for bottling pickle juice, now it feels like a normal thing to drink!', because previously they’ve been drinking pickle juice out of jars!”
She adds, “Then there’s the pregnant ladies. We’ve had few women come up to us at food fairs that have tried it, loved it and bought bottles to take home.”
What's the best way to use it with food?
Not how you’d immediately imagine. Florence says, “My favourite recent discovery is if you have fish and chips, put pickle juice on it - it’s amazing. We’ve also had a chef buy a bottle of it to use in ceviche which he said was really tasty. My mum used it to roast a chicken the other day and it’s also good in salad dressings.”
One final thing – what do they do with all the pickles?
“Yep, we have a lot of pickles around right now! We’re about to start selling them actually, they’re really nice for snacks or in sandwiches, they’re really tasty. We’re also about to bring out our own pickle juice Bloody Mary mix in a few months, too.”
Right - time to pick up some pickle juice, then.