My uncle once told me about his award-winning family-secret margarita recipe. “Just add a little bit of pickle juice and you’ll blow everyone’s minds!” he would say. The thought of citrus, tequila, and pickle juice may seem like an odd combination on paper, but it actually shores up a nice sea-like brininess, enhancing the citrus and agave, bringing the whole drink to a weirdly higher level. But craft cocktails that use pickle juice or dill, I hadn’t seen one until recently and thought this must be some sort of 2018 cocktail trend.
At 320 Main in Seal Beach, co-owner Jason Schiffer just gave me a flashback with his latest drink menu featuring a new whiskey sour called the Dilbert Pickle which contains George Dickel rye, whiskey pickle shrub, Lustau Sherry, lemon juice, and egg white. Why it isn’t called the Dickel Pickle is beyond me, but the drink, served in a tall champagne flute, trumpets fresh oak aromatics through the dense meringue-like head. As if foam that smells of fresh bourbon-soaked oak isn’t goosebump-inducing enough, the finish has a tingle of dill pickle that hits the back of the throat. “Pickles are funny, that’s why I did it,” says Jason. “I like to go around and throw pickles, and put pickles in front of peoples doors, just because it’s funny.” 320 Main, Seal Beach // 320MainSealBeach.com
Several miles south from 320 Main is Corona Del Mar’s landmark restaurant the Five Crowns, and a different kind of dill cocktail hit my paws. “This is Dill-Iciously Spring.” “Well, I should hope so!” I said, not expecting dill puns from such an institution. Dill-iciously Spring, is a gin drink made with Velvet Falernum, elderflower liquor, lime juice, dill, and muddled cucumber. The drink is full bodied, herbaceous, with a kick of that refreshing pre-pickle vibe. Catch this drink on the spring menu, which is created around new executive chef Alejandra Padlilla’s incredible cuisine. 3801 CA-1, Corona Del Mar // lawrysonline.com/five-crowns