GET IN BRINE

Maxim - - CONTENTS - By JOSHUA M. BERN­STEIN

Drink in our ul­ti­mate guide to the pick­le­back.

Thanks to its palata­bil­ity and sim­plic­ity— a jar of pick­les, a jig­ger of whiskey, and you’re in busi­ness—the pick­le­back has grad­u­ated from nov­elty to ubiq­uity, a se­cret hand­shake for off-duty bar­tenders and clued-in drinkers alike. Since its 2006 birth at Brook­lyn dive Bush­wick Coun­try Club (Old Crow + Mc­clure’s pickle brine = awe­some), it’s be­come a boozy-sa­vory sen­sa­tion. To­day, you’ll find pick­le­backs ev­ery­where from Chicago’s el­e­vated Au Che­val to Lon­don’s down-home Pitt Cue Co. “It’s for ev­ery oc­ca­sion,” ex­plains BCC’S John Roberts. “There’s just no bad time to have one.”

REACH FOR ROTGUT

Pick­le­backs are per­fect with most any whiskey, but since the as­sertive brine will oblit­er­ate nu­ances, skip pricey spir­its and bend your knees for the bot­tom shelf. Old Crow, Bench­mark, Old Grand-dad, and Evan Wil­liams Black La­bel are all ex­cel­lent op­tions. (Note: Some bar­tenders are get­ting up­pity by us­ing Bulleit, Jack Daniel’s, and, most com­monly, Jame­son.)

THE FIFTH TASTE

On your taste buds, the tango of booze and brine cre­ates a pleas­ing fla­vor of umami—our su­per­sa­vory fifth taste. It’s also found in Parme­san cheese, cured meats, and soy sauce.

TOAST TO YOUR HEALTH

Next time a buz­zkill ques­tions why you downed six pick­le­backs, tell him it’s doc­tor’s or­ders: A re­cent study found that pickle juice can al­le­vi­ate leg cramps. Fun fact: Dur­ing a foot­ball game in 2013, Boise State run­ning back Jay Ajayi was filmed slurp­ing brine from a pickle-filled jar. To avoid In­ter­net in­famy, he should’ve sipped Pickle Juice Sport—which, sadly, is a real thing.

GET JUICED

When shop­ping for brine, “you don’t want liq­uid that looks like it’s ra­dioac­tive,” says BCC’S Roberts, who rec­om­mends a “good-qual­ity brine that’s gar­licky and, prefer­ably, spicy.” His pick: Mc­clure’s spicy pick­les, the hal­lowed juice used in the orig­i­nal pick­le­back.

POLE PO­SI­TION

Hung over? Per­haps the prob­lem is too much whiskey, not enough brine. In Poland, pickle juice is a clas­sic morningafter cure. It may not just be folk­lore: Vine­gar’s acetic acid helps rav­aged bod­ies re­tain fluid and, like a sponge, ab­sorb the brine’s ben­e­fi­cial elec­trolytes and salt.

PICKLE POWER

Have some left­over brine from your last pick­le­back ben­der? The salty am­brosia’s acid­ity makes it ideal for clean­ing cop­per pans, ten­der­iz­ing steaks, and even killing weeds. Se­ri­ously!

From its hum­ble Brook­lyn be­gin­nings, the pick­le­back—that is, rough whiskey chased with salty pickle juice—has be­come a bona fide global phe­nom­e­non.

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