Seriously, what is up with the Pickleback?

When I first heard of it, I was at first grossed out, then eventually came around to acknowledge – at the very least – that it isn’t all that bad. But really. Pickle juice and whiskey? (And what are bars doing with all of their extra pickles?)

About a week ago, Chris and I had the following conversation:

“So … you know the pickleback?” He asked

“Yes….?”  (I’m thinking – this isn’t going to end well)

“Well, if you think about it, pickle juice is basically just water, vinegar, salt and spices right?”


“… and that is basically just an unsweetened, salty shrub, right?”

“Hmm. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I’ll give you that.”

“… and we have that watermelon shrub in the fridge…”

I think you can see where this conversation was going … as could I! Armed with his watermelon shrub, Chris decided to make his own variation of the famed (and dare I say “classic”) pairing.

A Match Made in… Heaven?

I expected Chris to choose a reposado Tequila or darker style of Rum… it just felt like those flavors would go well with watermelon. But he surprised me with his choice – a silver Sotol. He explained that Sotol has a cool vegetal component that he thought would play nicely with the watermelon, and that the salt in the shrub would also enhance and highlight the flavor notes in the Sotol.

… and it worked! Huh. Who’da thought?

So if you’ve been following along for the past few weeks and made a batch of the Watermelon Shrub, then this Pickleback variant is a fun (and dare I admit, tasty) way to finish it off!

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The WatermelonBack

Like the pickleback and watermelons? This one’s for you!
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Drinks


Cocktail Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Sotol
  • 1 oz Watermelon Shrub

Salted Watermelon Shrub Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Watermelon Chopped into ½” cubes
  • 1 ½ Cups White Sugar
  • 1 Ea Zest of One Lemon
  • ¼ Tsp Salt
  • 1 ½ Cups Maple Soju


  • Pour the watermelon shrub into a shot glass.
  • Pour the Sotol into a second shot glass.
  • Drink the Sotol, then drink the watermelon shrub as a “back.”

Salted Watermelon Shrub

  • Add all ingredients except the vinegar to a bowl and mix well.
  • Macerate for one hour.
  • Add vinegar.
  • Let it sit for 24 hours, covered, in the fridge.
  • Fine-strain.