Chow Bella

Pickle Back: The Other Green Drink

​This St. Patrick's Day, you'll likely see a lot of green beer flowing. Thing is, unless the brewer's done something horribly wrong, beer isn't meant to be green. Also, the fizzy yellow stuff they're adding food coloring to is for wusses. March 17 is a day for celebrating the Irish heritage and all that's associated with it: overindulgence, a high alcohol tolerance, manliness. You need a drink that will follow the green spirit of the day while putting hair on your chest. You need the Pickle Back.

Very en vogue around this time last year, the Pickle Back consists of a simple pair of shots. The first: Jameson Irish Whiskey, the favorite shot of those in the service industry and perfect for St. Patrick's Day. The second: pickle brine. We see you blanching, but don't knock it until you've tried it -- the pickle juice neutralizes the alcohol and washes away the harsher edges of the whiskey, leaving a savory tang that blends with the remnants of the liquor's smoke. Depending on where you are, the drink is also called a Pickle Pony, Piskey, or Cheeseburger (oddly descriptive of the flavor, actually). The origins of the drink are largely unknown, though it's thought to have originated in Brooklyn hipster bars.

Any bar that happens to have a jar of pickle juice lying around will be able to serve a Pickle Back, but some Valley spots specialize in the drink. Arcadia's Kitchen 56 takes a unique twist on it by following things up with a can of PBR. "Some people think the PBR's necessary to clean out their mouths after the drink," says Brittany West, general manager at Kitchen 56. "But some people love it. I've never actually had it since I'm allergic to whiskey, but the pickle juice is supposed to round out and smooth the shot of Jameson." Enough people have asked for Kitchen 56's version, in fact, that the restaurant recently created the Pickled Martini -- a vodka martini made with pickle juice to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Over in Scottsdale, smoky dive Palo Verde Lounge serves up a more traditional pickle back, and Old Town eatery Citizen Public House makes one using house-made pickle juice crafted by chef Bernie Kantak. Going green never tasted so...salty.

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