Posted March 17, 2011

We’re Tickled by Pickles

Eat + Drink

Lately we’ve found ourselves in a pickle. Meaning, well … we can’t get enough of them!

Pickles are having a moment. In fact, so is pickling in general. Using salt, vinegar, patience, and a knack for flavor combinations, Kimpton’s chefs and bartenders have shown they know a thing or two about preserving. Here’s a sampling of what’s on our menus. Enjoy them in all their lip-puckering glory while you can.

Cocktails at South Water Kitchen
For the rest of this month, you can savor the briny goodness of the Chicago restaurant’s Mason Jar Cocktail Menu. It celebrates the longstanding tradition of canning, preserving, and pickling ingredients from the summer and fall harvest in order to get through the bleak winter months. Fittingly, each of the six drinks is served in an actual mason jar.

Options include Canned Peaches, which combines Bacardi 8 rum, house-made peach pit syrup, Belvedere Pomarancza vodka, freshly squeezed orange juice, and muddled peaches; and Pickled Watermelon, made from Bulleit bourbon, balsamic simple syrup, ginger beer, and a pickled watermelon rind.

Bar manager Sarah McComber pickles the watermelon rinds herself. “It was a super-fun menu to research,” she says. “It took me back to childhood memories of my parents spending entire days in the kitchen canning and pickling various foods.”

Oh, and for all of you that are ready to think spring, know that in April, the restaurant introduces a cocktail menu inspired by spring flowers. (We’re especially eager to sample The Lavender, a mix of Remy Martin VSOP cognac, rhubarb-lavender syrup, lemon juice, and orange bitters.)

225 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago (312-236-930 or

Jsix's Christian Graves cures his own pickles in a temperature-controlled room

Charcuterie Plate at Jsix
Christian Graves, executive chef at the San Diego hot spot, cures his own bite-sized pickles in a temperature-controlled room onsite. The pickles are served on the charcuterie platter alongside a bevy of cured meats (duck prosciutto, chorizo, soppressata salami, braseola), mustard, pickled red peppers, and pillow-y house-made bread.

616 J Street, San Diego (619-531-8744 or

Bread & Butter Pickles at Sazerac
Executive chef Jason McClure serves his handcrafted pickles as a side to sandwiches, but regulars at the Seattle restaurant sometimes order them alone as a snack. McClure jars a secret-recipe mixture to get the pickles just right. Okay, so it’s actually a recipe that’s too good to keep secret. The chef shares a how-to below. Go for it, pickle purists!

1101 Fourth Ave., Seattle (206-624-7755 or

2 qts.         Sliced yellow onions
4 qts.         Sliced Kirby cucumbers (1/4” each slice)
½ cup       Kosher salt
1 qt.           Cider vinegar
1 qt.           Sugar
1 tsp.         Celery seed
1 tsp.         Ground tumeric
1 tbsp.       Ground ginger
2 tbsp.       Whole mustard seed
1 tsp.          Ground white pepper

1.     Bring all ingredients except onions and cucumbers to a boil.

2.     Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.

3.     Following all jarring and preserving procedures carefully, fill sterile jars with the cucumbersand onions, gently packing so they don’t become bruised.

4.     Fill the jars with the boiled mixture, leaving 1/4″ head space. Using a sterile glass rod, remove all air bubbles. Cover tightly, and process for four minutes.

Photo of Christian Graves by Ilumus Photography



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