A few weeks back I was trolling the tables at the Albany Wine & Food Festival and encountered what was surely the work of a mad scientist: a Bloody Mary concocted with pickle juice and a fierce white whiskey. Specifically, McClure’s Bloody Mary Mix and White Pike Whiskey. The experience haunted me and, when I was unable to find the McClure’s product locally, I sought them out at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco.
Turns out this is a collaboration that has had careful planning and has been promoted at several events like the one I attended. McClure’s is a Detroit company that has expanded to pickle-loving Brooklyn. They have a variety of shelf-stable vinegar pickles that pack a kick, and a good amount of that vinegar brine as well as some cucumber seeds and assorted spices are dumped into a tomato juice base to make the BM. The traditional lime wedge, by the way, is completely unnecessary.
White Pike is a New York State sipping whiskey produced with spelt, which gives it a surprising sweetness at the same time it is kicking your throat’s ass. The flavor profile is actually closer to a really robust vodka, reeking of the barnyard, than what you think of as any kind of whiskey. As my friend Richard from Alabama put it, it has the strength to “fight back” against the pickle juice mixer. And at $40 a 750 ml bottle, it’s not to be taken lightly.
Truth is, I’m not sure I’d love either of these products on their own, but together they’re a marriage made in heaven, or hell. McClure’s products are available in a variety of gourmet specialty stores and the line is expanding; White Pike is a lot harder to find and you’ll probably have to go mail order.