Cocktails can be incredibly creative. Sometimes it seems like every possible ingredient has made its way into cocktails at one point or another. You might even find root beer, vegetable juices, hot sauce, or iced tea included in cocktails (plus some still more unusual ingredients). Maybe not surprisingly, there are even cocktails with pickle juice.
We’re not just talking about a single pickle juice recipe either. Actually, there is a wide a variety of different recipes, including some truly unexpected ones.
Pickle juice isn’t a novelty ingredient either. Its salty flavor adds a wonderful contrast to many cocktails, making them more interesting or more balanced than they would have been otherwise.
Why not try a few of these out for yourself?
Cocktails With Pickle Juice You Can Make At Home
Pickle Juice Bloody Mary
Who would have thought that tomato juice works well as the base of a cocktail? The bloody Mary and all its many spin offs prove that the idea really does work – and tastes good too.
Now, the traditional version of the cocktail doesn’t use pickle juice at all. It’s made using vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and Tabasco sauce (plus some salt and pepper).
However, there are many twists to the recipe, including some made using pickle juice. The pickle juice adds extra saltiness and some briny complexity to the cocktail, making it even better.
Of course, it’s probably best to skip the salt if you’re making this type of bloody Mary. The pickle juice provides plenty of saltiness on its own. You could also experiment with using jalapeno pickle juice to make the flavor profile even more interesting.
A Pickled Caesar
The Caesar cocktail is a natural follow on from a bloody Mary, as the two cocktails are incredibly similar. The main difference is simply the use of clamato instead of tomato juice.
Clamato is simply a combination of clam juice and tomato juice, so you still get plenty of tomato flavor within the cocktail. At first, it seems like adding pickle juice to this cocktail would make it too briny, yet, the pickle juice actually complements the other flavors well.
You end up with a more complex cocktail that’s easy to enjoy. It might even become your new favorite.
Dill Pickle Martini
This is one of the most famous pickle juice cocktails and is also incredibly simple.
Many versions are made much like a dirty martini, just with pickle juice instead of olive brine. This means you’re using a combination of vermouth, gin or vodka, and olive brine.
The ratios are up to you (there’s no right or wrong way to make a martini anyway). But, a ratio of 1 part pickle juice to 2 parts of your spirit is a good place to begin. Then you just need a splash of vermouth.
An even simpler version is to just combine pickle juice and vodka, perhaps in a 1:2 ratio. This recipe isn’t quite as nuanced, but it’s helpful if you don’t have any sweet vermouth on hand.
A pickleback is simply where you use a shot of pickle juice to chase a shot of alcohol (often whiskey). Why not combine those same flavors in a cocktail instead?
The simplest way to do so would be to mix whiskey and pickle juice together then serve the combination over ice. But, you can also add a little simple syrup and some lemon or lime juice too.
These ingredients give you an interesting riff on a whiskey sour. The simple syrup also helps to make this cocktail easy to drink. For more detailed instructions and ratios, there’s a great recipe over at theurbenlife.com.
Pickle Juice Whiskey Sour
This recipe comes from delish.com and it follows the whiskey sour idea as well. However, while lemon juice is included, there isn’t any simple syrup at all, making this a fairly tart cocktail.
The ratios are different as well. The previous recipe used 4 ounces of whiskey to 3 ounces of pickle juice, while this uses 3 ounces of whiskey and just an ounce of pickle juice. The change means that whiskey dominates the pickle juice whiskey sour, while the pickleback cocktail is more balanced.
Still, you can easily play with the ratios until you find a version that’s perfect for you.
The Fisherman’s Folly
Pickle juice is a weird ingredient in its own right, so why not add a few other unusual ones to the same cocktail? That’s exactly what’s happening with this cocktail (you can find the full recipe at tastingtable.com).
This is actually a gin and sake cocktail, which automatically makes it pretty nuanced. There’s also matcha tea powder, grapefruit juice, and even fish sauce in the recipe.
Sounds bizarre? Perhaps, but some magic happens when you make cocktails. Sometimes the most unusual ingredients come together to make a truly wonderful treat.
The Pickled Surfer
The pickled surfer looks much like a glass of pickle juice at first glance. Yet, it’s actually a familiar cocktail. It’s another one that uses a combination of whiskey (Irish whiskey, this time), plus lime juice and pickle juice.
This combination makes the recipe similar to the pickle juice whiskey sour from earlier. The big difference is that this cocktail uses bread and butter pickles rather than dill pickles.
Bread and butter pickle juice is also much sweeter than dill pickle juice. So, this simple substitution completely changes the flavor profile of the cocktail.
Here’s another familiar entry. This cocktail still relies on whiskey, lime juice, and pickle juice, but it includes honey for sweetness, plus a drizzle of sriracha sauce. The sriracha sauce is enough to kick up the flavor profile of the cocktail, without making it too spicy.
The familiar style of this cocktail isn’t too surprising anyway. Many pickle juice mixed drinks were inspired by the pickleback and haven’t varied too far from that original theme.
Pickled Me Up
This isn’t another bloody Mary. It’s actually a Michelada cocktail instead. Micheladas are interesting. They use many of the same ingredients as a bloody Mary, except that they add beer into the mix. The beer turns this into a carbonated cocktail that’s also a touch more refreshing.
There’s another twist too, many versions use clamato juice rather than tomato juice. Clamato juice is generally half tomato juice and half clam juice (perhaps with some extra spices), so it still offers some tomato flavors, along with distinct brininess.
The pickle juice provides brininess too, but the flavor profiles are different, so the two ingredients complement each other well.
No, we didn’t mean to write Tom Collins. That cocktail is made using gin, soda water, simple syrup, and lemon juice, while this one uses aquavit, soda water, simple syrup, lime juice, and pickle brine.
The aquavit may be unfamiliar, as this Scandinavian spirit isn’t well-known. However, it’s an interesting one to try, as aquavit is flavored with a variety of herbs and spices.
Aquavit is a good choice for pickle juice anyway, as the main flavor must come from dill seeds and/or caraway seeds. As a result, it should complement your pickle juice perfectly.
Remember the dill martini that we mentioned before? The pickled pick cocktail follows some of the same themes (and would be excellent in a martini glass).
There are two spirits here: vodka and aquavit, in a 2:1 ratio. Then there is a half serving of dill pickle brine and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters. The bitters add an interesting flavor complexity that elevates this cocktail to a new level.
The bloody bull should look familiar, as it’s yet another variation on the bloody Mary. The biggest difference is that bloody bull includes beef broth along with the typical bloody Mary ingredients. This beef bouillon provides an extra depth of flavor and some interesting savory notes.
Not surprisingly, the addition of pickle juice works well. You can also play around with adding and removing other ingredients.
Gin and Brine
This is a simple cocktail, yet also an exceptional one. All you need is gin, pickle juice, and celery bitters. Interestingly, the pickle brine is the primary ingredient. You’re using 2 parts of the pickle brine to 1 part of gin and just a little celery bitters.
Because the pickle juice is such a major ingredient, its quality really matters. It’s best to find high-quality pickles that have been fermented (rather than made with vinegar). You could even make your own pickles. This way you can control all the flavors in your pickle juice.
Pickle Juice Margarita
Pickle juice isn’t a normal margarita ingredient – not by a long shot. Yet, there’s something about this combination that works exceptionally well.
The main reason is that you’re getting a touch of salty flavor from the pickle juice. This is often exactly what the cocktail needs. Otherwise, it can easily end up too sweet.
Finesse isn’t really required for this cocktail. You just need to add half an ounce or so of dill pickle juice to your favorite margarita recipe.
Did you know that a Caesar cocktail can be made using rum instead of vodka? White rum works best here, as it provides a little extra depth and nuance, without being too overwhelming. You can also add roasted garlic to the cocktail to complement the other flavors.
The addition of pickle juice shouldn’t be a surprise here. We already know it works well in a regular bloody Mary, along with most bloody Mary variations. So, why not try it here too?
The pickleback was too famous to leave off this list, even though it isn’t a mixed drink at all. We’re simply talking about a shot of whiskey that’s chased by a shot of pickle juice.
The idea is that the pickle brine reduces the intensity of the alcohol, making it easier to enjoy. Of course, this isn’t the only version of the pickleback. You’ll also see pickle juice used as a chaser for vodka or for tequila.
Pickle Juice And Tequila Shot
This simple shot just includes equal parts of pickle juice and tequila. It’s really just a tequila pickleback, except that you’re drinking both ingredients together rather than one after the other.
Vodka And Pickle Juice
This shot is easy as well, as it’s a combination of pickle juice and vodka. You’re basically just drinking alcoholic pickle juice.
Finally, if you love the flavor of pickles, you could experiment with pickle-infused vodka. This gives you the taste of pickles in a more nuanced way than if you used pickle juice.
Now that you have a whole list of pickle juice cocktails to experiment with, it’s time to think about the type of pickle juice to use.
There are two main types – fermented and vinegar-based. Both types of pickle juice have a similar flavor profile, including sour and savory notes, plus nuances from any added ingredients (like dill or garlic). Some people argue that the fermented version tastes better, but personal preference plays a large role in that claim.
The biggest difference is the potential health benefits.
Fermented pickle juice is often seen as the healthiest option, as it contains plenty of probiotics. These may improve your health by complementing the microbes already present in your gut.
But, vinegar has some potential health benefits too, such as helping to stabilize your blood sugar levels. This version of pickle juice may also be lower in sodium.
Health isn’t the primary goal of drinking cocktails anyway, so you can go with whichever version you prefer.
Either way, it’s important to look for high quality pickles or pickle juice. Many products simply don’t cut it, as they’re heavily processed and rely on additives. They may have also been pasteurized, which kills any beneficial microbes.
It’s often best to look for artisan pickles. These should be of higher quality than anything mass produced (and will often taste better too). You can find some of these in a pickle of the month club. Plus, this way you get delicious pickles, rather than just the pickle juice.
Making pickles yourself is another option. This way you know they’re high quality and you get to choose the ingredients and exact flavor profile.