Not sure what a pickleback is? Ask any barfly or party animal and they should be able to explain: It’s a drink special that involves a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. If it sounds a bit odd, just think about it — people often chase boozy shots with something to help ease the bite and quell the burn of the spirit. The salty, vinegar-tang of pickle brine is a bizarrely perfect counterpoint to the intensity of hooch. In Russia, vodka is often paired with pickles, and in Mexico, tequila is sometimes served with a side of pickle brine. Though there is some conflicting info as to where the drink took hold in the U.S., the term “pickleback” for a whiskey/pickle juice combo is credited to bartender Reggie Cunningham at Bushwick Country Club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In 2006, he was introduced to the pairing by a customer from the American South, and came up with the pairing of Old Crow bourbon and brine from McClure’s spicy pickle spears. In the the decade since, picklebacks have spread in popularity, and in bars and pubs across the world, you’ll find some variation of the pickleback.
We took that flavor combo and added it to a recipe for pulled pork sliders, to make a superbly satisfying snack, fit for any party spread or tailgate. Visit your butcher or farmers market to pick up some PA pork butt and be sure to grab a jar of local artisan pickles (Brine Street Picklery‘s artisan pickles are some of our favorites) and a bottle of PA whiskey. There are so many great distilleries in Pennsylvania: Red Brick Craft Distillery, Manatawny Still Works, Wigle Whiskey, Stoll & Wolfe … just to name a few! After the pork butt has spent a nice long time in the slow cooker with the whiskey and pickle juice, place the shreds on a Martin’s Potato Slider Rolls (topped with extra pickles) for a delicious, PA-proud sandwich!
Check out our video for the technique, then head to our recipe to try making pickleback pulled pork sliders at home!
- Video and photo: Dish Works