How to Make a Pickleback Shot

Pickleback Shot Recipe

 The Spruce 

  • Total: 2 mins
  • Prep: 2 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Serving: 1 serving
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
122 Calories
0g Fat
4g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 122
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 351mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Protein 0g
Calcium 17mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The pickleback is a very interesting whiskey shot and a drink you have to experience for yourself. It's incredibly simple—a shot of Jameson chased by a shot of pickle juice—and it is, without a doubt, one of the most popular shots ordered in bars around the world.

Chasing whiskey with pickle brine really is nothing new, it's long been one of those "hair of the dog" remedies for hangovers. Yet, it wasn't until 2006 that Brooklyn bartender Reggie Cunningham gave the shot its now-famous name at the Bushwick Country Club. After that, it didn't take long for the drink to become a hit and spread across the U.S. and beyond.

The combination is odd, though it works surprisingly well. Even if you're not a fan of pickles, it's a drink you'll want to try because it delivers a rich, umami flavor that you will not find in any other drink. There's no need to head to the bar, either. You can experience the pickleback at home, even with that jar of Vlasic's hanging out in your fridge.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey (like Jameson)
  • 1 1/2 ounces pickle juice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Whiskey and pickles
     The Spuce
  2. Pour one shot glass full of whiskey and fill a separate shot glass with pickle juice.

    pouring pickle juice into a shot glass
     The Spruce


Many people have found that a beer chaser is a perfect way to finish up the pickleback, though it's not required. If you'd like to give it a try, stick with the light, refreshing lagers. Dos Equis, Tecate, and Pabst Blue Ribbon are some of the top choices among pickleback fans.

The Irish Whiskey

The key to making a great Pickleback really is in the whiskey. You can pour any Irish whiskey—or any other whiskey, for that matter—but it will not be the same as a shot of Jameson. Maybe it's this particular whiskey's woody sweetness or something else entirely. It's hard to explain why, but Jameson creates the best tasting pickleback.

While Jameson is not the original whiskey, it is the most popular today, and likely led to the shot's success. Cunningham's first round (or ten rounds, according to his account) of the pickleback actually used Old Crow. This is good news if you want a pickleback and want to save money. It's not quite as tasty as Jameson, but it's pretty good.

The Pickle Juice

As stringent as you should be about the whiskey, there's no need to be picky about the pickle juice. The brine from any jar of pickles will work. Go ahead and pour from that commercially produced jar, or your favorite homemade pickles—the shot will be just as good either way.

The pickle juice is also where you can have some fun. Bartenders around the country have played with a variety of pickle bases to great success. Some bars even stock up to 10 jars for this exact purpose. Try fruity brines, spicy brines, or something in between to see which you like best. If you want to keep it authentic, McClure's is the brand of pickles Cunningham used and recommends.

How Strong Is a Pickleback?

Since you're not mixing the whiskey with the pickle juice, but chasing it, your pickleback is no different than a straight shot of whiskey. If you use Jameson, it will be an 80-proof shot (40 percent ABV). The pickle juice just adds more contents to your stomach, which may slow down drunkenness and help prevent a hangover (unless you overdo it, of course).

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