The Pickleback

I am a tiny bit sad but mostly happy to report that my three-week run as Eloise has ended. We moved into a corporate apartment on Monday. It has a kitchen. It has doors! It has four forks, four spoons, and four knives. No dinner parties for six, unless you are willing to bring your own utensils. It has some pretty amazing views, but really, it’s hard to get away from the amazing views in the greatest city in America. “I would not like a harbor view, please.” “Good luck – try Philadelphia*.”

We celebrated by opening one of the bottles of wine I told you about – one of the bottles recommended to us by Bin 604 as pairing really well with our neighbors burning our house down. The bottle of wine we chose, World’s End (If Six was Nine), was advertised as a moderately expensive bottle of wine that drinks like a really expensive bottle of wine. To our palettes, it was a fair assessment. After doing research this morning, it is now no surprise. We were drinking a blend that uses grapes grown in two top Napa Valley vineyards: Coombsville and Sugarloaf Mountain. These outstanding vineyards are currently sourced by several of Napa Valley’s most well-known “luxury” wine producers. The only caveat I will make is that this is a big, huge red. You need to drink it with food. Which we did! Homemade pizza (sausage, peppers, and onions, if you must know) and caesar salad.

Robert and I are famous among our friends for our elaborate wedding anniversaries. We spend the whole year planning them and make a big to-do the week before. “Elaborate” is defined, by us, as something that maximizes the time we can spend together and is compliant with the traditional anniversary gift associated with the year we are celebrating. For year one, paper, we picked out a piece of art together, and ate at local family favorite Charleston. For year two, cotton, we went to New York and ate at Per Se in new clothes that we picked out together. You get the idea.

Last year, in preparation, I shared a list of ten things we love with our friends and family, as follows:

1. Pickles
2. Sprocket
3. Our friends and family
4. Red wine, bourbon, and gin
5. Ron Swanson as a man and Ron Swanson as a life philosophy
6. The Olympics!
7. Cheese, charcuterie, and jellies and jams
8. Our roof deck!
9. Ken Burns documentaries
10. Each other!

Our friends Dave and Ken were kind enough to send us pickles as an anniversary gift. How thoughtful is that? And not just any pickles. Famous pickles. Six whole jars! We had gotten through most of our jars by the fire, but unfortunately, not all. #1, #8, and #9 on our list fell victim to our circumstances. But you’ll never guess what. Dave and Ken sent us sympathy pickles! Given that we are re-starting our life in Baltimore, the first thing that came to my mind is a famous Baltimore “cocktail” you’ve probably never heard of: the pickleback. A shot of brown liquor is chased by a shot of pickle brine and followed by a beer. Wikipedia seems to think the pickleback was introduced to the patrons of the Bushwick Country Club bar in Brooklyn in 2007, which is bullshit. The pickleback originated in Baltimore and we’ve been drinking them forever, not since 2007. And it’s not a hipster drink, you guys. It’s a drink for regular people. All you hipsters stay away. Your sunglasses look ridiculous.

You might be wondering why this post is called A Brief Interlude for Cocktails – Bawlmer, Hon. Well, since this post is about our new life on the harbor, and the history of the Baltimore pickleback, I thought it only appropriate to name it after our fair city. Bawlmer is Baltimore, you see, if you speak Bawlmerese, a dialect of English that originated among the residents of South and Southeast Baltimore. The most notable characteristics of Bawlmerese are an elongated “oh” sound and the usage of the endearment “hon”.

Bawlmer, Hon
One shot of bourbon or whiskey
One shot of pickle juice
One beer of your choice (if you want to go full Bawlmer, drink a Natty Boh, but I warn you, once you go full Bawlmer, you can never go back)

Drink them in order. For some reason (I can’t imagine why) our corporate housing company didn’t give us four shot glasses. So, we bought plastic champagne glasses. They worked great! The beer we used to chase our picklebacks was a gift from other close friends, Meg and Kyle, who specialize in German items and selected a very special German beer for us.

Most of you are probably saying, “this was a fine post, Caitlin, but you’re nuts if you think I’m ever going to chase a shot with pickle juice. Clearly the stress of the fire has impacted your brain in some way.” In all seriousness, picklebacks are delicious. Strange, but delicious. The briny pickle juice immediately cuts through any nausea you might be experiencing from your shot of brown liquor. It cuts through the bitterness, too. You feel refreshed. You feel invigorated. You feel alive. Go for it, hon!

*Technically Philadelphia is located between the banks of the Schykill and Delaware Rivers, so there are theoretically some apartments with water views.


  1. I love you. That’s all. Thanksgiving!!!!!!!! Eachother!!! YAAAAA

  2. Marcie Prince says:

    Awesome, keep up the good work! XOXO Marcie

  3. We are honored. And also anxious, now, to try a pickleback!

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