Back in December at the Foodiemeet bake-off I was lucky enough to win a gift certificate from the Samovar Room for bottle service vodka. I went back with friends a month later and enjoyed a bottle of Russian Standard. This isn’t really the usual bottle service experience because the waitress brings a tray full of glasses, traditional Russian mixers, a dish of olives, and a small pitcher of pickle brine that she claimed we were meant to chase the vodka shots with.
On one hand I figured this was an insider trick to fool the uninitiated into making asses of themselves but on the other I really like pickles and will shoot just about anything (see my Chalet sauce near-addiction; thankfully I’ve been clean for going on eighteen months). Taste-wise (and who care about anything else?) this is a great idea. The vodka smooths the sharp saltiness of the brine which in return highlights vodka’s (few) good qualities.
I have been on an evangelical mission to get friends and family to try this combination. But it’s hard to say “no no if you want the shot of vodka you also have to shoot the pickle juice.” People just take the vodka and don’t even bother with one of those I’ve-taken-the-shot-but-actually-thrown-it-over-my-shoulder switcheroos for the brine. Deep into dill pickle season I also find myself with extra brine on my hands. The macrobiotic gurus (who I’m sure cringe at the news that yogurt companies have developed and patented proprietary strains of bacteria) recommend it as a beneficial sipping tonic but even I am not that hardcore. So, this double inspiration has bizarrely led me to create these pickle-flavoured vodka shooters.
No one will be too surprised, I hope, that the Internet is brimming with recipes for vodka shooters. As always it is a question of separating the wheat from the chaff and luckily there seems to be one recipe that rises to the top and everybody plagiarises from each other. Here’s a link to the wikihow version. Even though I’m using standard issue forty percent vodka but because of the salt in the brine I’m going to treat it as over-proof and scale the ratio back to 9 ounces vodka to 7 of cold water to 16 ounces pickle brine.
Petersburg Pickled Shooters
- 16 ounces, 2 C pickle brine, chilled
- 9 ounces well-chilled vodka
- 7 ounces cold water
- two packets of powdered gelatin that are meant to each set 2 cups of liquid
Bring the seven ounces of cold water and nine ounces of the pickle brine to a boil. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Shake in the powdered gelatin and stir vigorously for at least a minute. Pour in the vodka and the remaining seven ounces of pickle brine. Stir vigorously for about another minute.
Pour into shot glasses of your choice (little paper cups work best because they can be turned inside out. Refrigerate for two to three hours so that the gelatin sets.
Why not just boil all of the brine and pour the water in cold with the vodka? Well, I think some of the pickle flavour is preserved by leaving it un-boiled; those more in tune with the Earth’s karmic vibrations probably believe it preserves its life force–and it is full of living organisms.