Let's make one thing clear as a clean martini: Pickles and brine aren't new to the cocktail world. Think of the dirty martini, the pickletini, the Gibson, the pickleback shot, the pickle juice bloody mary, the pickled michelada ... the list goes on.
But what is new — and seems to be a trend — is that canned cocktail companies are partnering with pickle companies to put these briny drinks into cans for mass consumption.
On June 6, Grillo’s Pickles and Philadelphia hard seltzer brand Two Robbers announced their partnership: Grillo’s Pickle Hard Seltzer, which “combines the world’s best pickles with the world’s best hard seltzer for a refreshing and unique summer blend,” according to both brands’ press release.
And then, on July 18, Claussen Pickles and wine-based canned cocktail company Spritz Society announced their partnership: Spritz Society Pickle by Claussen, which “contains refreshing white wine and a signature pickle flavor,” according to a joint press release, “marking the first time the 150-year-old (pickle) brand has entered the beverage space.”
As someone who needs a pickle of some kind with every meal, and whose favorite drink is the aforementioned dirty martini, this is dillightful news. The more brine, the better.
And the public seems to agree. The Claussen collab started out as a joke: When Spritz Society announced a pickle flavor as an April Fools’ prank in 2022, it was surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reaction from fans, so it turned the idea into reality.
As for the Grillo’s Pickles partnership, “People save our brine to drink and reuse, long after they’ve finished their pickles,” says Eddie Andre, vice president of brand at Grillo’s Pickles. “With this collaboration, I’m excited to bring our signature brine to customers as a ready-to-drink beverage with a twist.”
Most importantly, though, how do they taste?
Like a dirty martini, both briny beverages need to be ice-cold.
They are only drinkable when fresh out of the fridge or cooler, so you'd better drink ’em quickly, or else they just taste like a lukewarm saline solution of sorts — not ideal for a hot summer day.
First up: Grillo’s Pickle Hard Seltzer. I should preface this by saying I generally do not enjoy hard seltzers, mostly because they’re usually too sweet for my taste, so I expected this to be at least somewhat sweet. I am wrong. It tastes exactly like pickle juice mixed with seltzer — jarringly so. I can't believe I’m saying this as someone who almost exclusively consumes savory drinks, but it could use a touch of sweetness for some dimension. It is a little too dill-heavy for my taste, but it is refreshing — only when cold, though. It gets increasingly less enjoyable as it warms up, so it’s not something you can leisurely sip. Despite my passion for pickles, I am having a tough time finishing it. That said, it’s probably the only hard seltzer I would drink again.
Next: Spritz Society Pickle by Claussen. If you’re (understandably) skeptical about the combination of pickles and wine, remember that it is a common practice in Italy to put an olive (and sometimes a little brine, too) in a spritz.
It smells distinctly like the Grillo’s one, so I am worried about dillyness. But upon tasting it, I realize it has the touch of sweetness the other one needs. It tastes like a semi-sweet sparkling wine got an accidental splash of pickle juice in it, and that's not a bad thing; without the brininess, the wine would be too sweet. I do wish it was a bit bubblier, though. As opposed to the other one, I could drink a lot of these. The description on the can says “zippy” and I would agree with that; it's refreshing and has a surprisingly pleasant aftertaste. Again — and I can’t stress this enough — it needs to be ice-cold to be consumed. Do not bother if it’s warm.
As much as I approve of this partnership, I mourn the naming opportunity Claussen and White Claw would have birthed: White Claussen.
Grillo’s Pickle Hard Seltzer is available at Acme, Giant, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Weis and various independent retailers, starting at $11.99, for a limited time.
Spritz Society Pickle by Claussen is available exclusively on the Spritz Society website to purchase, starting as two packs of four for $50 for a limited time, while supplies last.