Booze

Ready-to-Drink Boozy Pickle Shots Are Here, and It's Kind of a Big Dill

Dirty Dill comes in both boxes and shooters.
Dirty Dill comes in both boxes and shooters. Abby Rindels
There is a long history of mixing or chasing booze with the salty brine that once housed pickles. If you’ve never tried it, it may seem an unlikely duo, but the concoction is a staple in many dive bars and now, on liquor-store shelves. Colorado natives Daniel Graves, Warren Wood and Colton Mortag have launched Dirty Dill Pickle Shots, which are now available in several liquor stores with more coming soon.

Graves remembers trying a pickle shot for the first time about eight years ago at the Retro Room in Denver. From there, he started making himself pickle martinis and has been enjoying boozy pickle drinks ever since. “Why has nobody packaged these up?” Graves recalls thinking. So he teamed up with friends Wood (who is also the owner of Elevated Seltzer) and Mortag to craft a game plan for launching packaged pickle shots.

Dirty Dill comes in at 30 percent ABV and is all-natural and gluten-free, with no artificial ingredients or additives. After brewing a natural brine for two hours, it sits for two weeks before vodka is added and the product is filtered. The brine consists of what you’d expect from your typical pickle juice — vinegar, salt, peppercorn and mustard seeds, for starters.
click to enlarge Dirty Dill comes in both boxes and shooters. - ABBY RINDELS
Dirty Dill comes in both boxes and shooters.
Abby Rindels

Graves says the shots are natural-tasting, with minimal added sugar. “It’s all natural ingredients, and I think people like the feel of that,” he notes. The team went from producing small-batch amounts in a pot to producing thirty gallons at a time. “I think they hold alcohol very well,” Graves adds. Despite the shots being high in alcohol content, "they taste good.”

In addition to the original pickle variety, Dirty Dill is also making a version with caribe peppers, the same variety that is used to make pepperoncini. “It’s got more of a bite, pepper kick to it,” Graves says.

While its designed to be consumed straight, Dirty Dill can also be a creative addition to a variety of cocktails. “It’s really good in Bloody Mary’s,” Graves says. The Bloody Dill, one of the cocktail recipes available on the company's website, includes either the original dill or caribe pepper spirit along with Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice and pepper. Other drink recipes include a martini, an Irish whiskey drink and a pickle spritz with sparkling water and lemon juice.

Dirty Dill Pickle Shots will be available in various bars throughout Denver soon. A boxed variety and 50-milliliter shooters is also available at retail locations. For more information, including a store locator, visit dirtydill.com.
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Kristen Kuchar is a Colorado writer covering craft beer, food and travel. For Westword, she explores vegan dining and the state's artisan beverages, such as cider and mead.