Why you should care
Your bloody mary just got a whole lot more interesting.
There’s nothing quite like biting into a cold, crisp dill pickle fresh out of the jar. And if you’re pickle-obsessed like me, you’ve probably sneaked a few sips of the mouth-puckering brine too. Why do some people think it’s weird to drink pickle juice? In the U.S., we drink tomato juice, grapefruit juice and even green juice, which are all just as salty, sour and/or gross, depending on your flavor palate. So why not pickle juice?
And what’s even better than drinking pickle juice? Drinking pickle juice with alcohol in it, of course! Thanks to a few beverage companies that agree, pickle-flavored vodka exists for those of us who want that salty, sour flavor in our libations too.
You might find yourself sipping more quickly than expected.
Adding pickle flavor to liquor isn’t an entirely new concept. For many years, bars have served picklebacks (vodka mixed with pickle juice) to cut the harsh taste of the alcohol. But actually infusing alcohol with pickle juice? Now that’s where things get interesting. Yes, pickle vodka does taste like vodka, but the pickle flavor cuts the bite of the liquor. So you might find yourself sipping more quickly than expected.
Among the distillers of pickle-infused vodka, most are located in the Great White North. Canada puts the U.S. pickle vodka game to shame, boasting at least five distilleries that make the unusual liquor, including Birmingham’s Dill Pickle Vodka, Last Mountain Dill Pickle Vodka and Tall Grass Dill Pickle Vodka, among others. But the U.S. is slowly catching up; Blue Spirits Distilling on Lake Chelan in Washington makes a potent 120-proof pickle version.
While many of these companies make other creative infusions, Chilled Dills Pickle Flavored Vodka, based in Charleston, South Carolina, crafts and sells nothing but pickle-infused vodka. If that doesn’t seem like a sound business plan, think again. The company has grown its business each year since 2012, and it now sells in six states throughout the country.
The idea for Chilled Dills began when co-founders Marty Lloyd, his dad, John, and their friend Neil were on an annual family trip in Clearwater, Florida. Their shot of choice that year was picklebacks. But they quickly encountered a problem: The pickle juice kept running out too fast. “Do you think we could bottle this?” Lloyd recalls wondering aloud to his family and friends. The group agreed it could be done. When they returned home to South Carolina, they began distilling and infusing their first batch of Chilled Dills.
Today, they use a patented distilling technology that utilizes ultrasonic energy, which helps to reduce the harshness of the alcohol. The six-times distilled vodka is then infused with all-natural pickles and pickle juice, unlike many flavored alcohols that are typically mixed with a powder, says Lloyd.
Chilled Dills is smooth enough to drink on the rocks or with a splash of soda water, but other ways to enjoy it is in a bloody mary, a pickletini or a “summertime slowdown” cocktail, which combines mint simple syrup, strawberry and lemon with pickle vodka over ice.
The vodka has won multiple awards, including the double gold medal in 2013’s “50 Best Flavored Vodkas,” a silver medal in the 2014 “San Francisco World Spirits Competition,” and a silver medal in the 2015 “Wine and Spirits Tasting Competition.”
If the awards don’t change your skepticism of pickle-flavored vodka, order a bottle for yourself online — although beware of shipping costs. For example: With the cheapest FedEx delivery option to San Francisco, you’re looking at $49.37.
Chilled Dills Best Bloody Mary
Pickle vodka is the perfect companion to a spicy, tangy bloody mary at Sunday morning brunch.
- 2 ounces Chilled Dills pickle vodka
- 3 ounces of your favorite bloody mary mix
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Hot sauce of your choosing
Rub lemon slice on the rim of the glass and dip in Old Bay seasoning. Shake ingredients with ice and pour. Garnish with everything you can think of.
For nighttime vibes, try a pickletini — a dirty martini with pickle juice instead of olive juice.
- 2 ounces Chilled Dills pickle vodka
- 1 ounce of pickle juice (or more for the true pickle fiends)
Shake with ice and serve up. Garnish with pickle slices.