The Pickleback, which is not a Nickleback tribute band, is a relatively new drink combo that matches a shot of whiskey with a pickle brine chaser. Started in 2006 by Brooklyn bartender Reggie Cunningham at The Bushwick Country Club, the concept spread around the United States, Canada, England and in Shanghai.
Recently, Milwaukee got in on the action. Mason Street Grill, 425 E. Mason St., put the Pickleback on its drink menu for $10; it includes a shot of Jameson coupled with a shot of house-made pickle brine.
"You don’t have to like whiskey, but you have to like pickles," says Mason Street bartender, Joe D’Acquisto.
Social media manager Carolynn Buser and I recently went to a happy hour at Mason Street Grill to take "The Pickleback Challenge." As people who enjoy both whiskey and pickles to begin with, we were an easy sell.
The Pickleback – sometimes called the "Piskey Whickle" or "Bartender's Handshake" – is also touted as a hangover drink. The brine has acetic acid in the vinegar, which is an antidiuretic with electrolytes, and the whiskey, of course, is the proverbial "hair of the dog." Together, some say it’s an effective remedy after a night of over-indulging.
The drink is also popular with people who do not normally like the taste of whiskey because the brine neutralizes both the taste and the burn of the booze.
Steve Gilbertson, co-owner of The Standard, occasionally drinks and serves Picklebacks at his East Side tavern. Gilbertson started drinking them a few years ago while traveling and says they are easy to make at The Standard because they already have pickles for Bloody Marys.
"I’m a huge fan of pickles, and I thought it was delicious," says Gilbertson. "So when I came back, I started drinking them, and a few people have picked it up."
Gilbertson says if one person in a group orders a Pickleback, often the whole group will want to try it, too.
"It really cleans the palate," says Gilbertson. "And if you’re drinking with a person who doesn’t like whiskey, it’s a good way to get ‘em past that."
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.