While making space in my overstuffed refrigerator last week, I chopped a last slice of brined lemon, tossed it into the bean soup bubbling on the stove, and began to tip the jar of brine into the sink. But I couldn’t resist the scent of that lemony liquid. If cucumber pickle brine can make a good cocktail ingredient, I thought, how much tastier a drink could you make with the salty, sour, bitter, tantalizingly aromatic brine of preserved lemons?
So I heated the brine to sterilize it, funneled it into a bottle, and stored the bottle in the liquor cabinet for Robert to find.
He couldn’t resist. That same day he invented his new favorite cocktail, the Vodka Lemon Pickletini. Here is his recipe:
2 2/3 ounces (1/3 cup) vodka
2 teaspoons brine from preserved lemons*
Combine the gin and lemon brine in a chilled cocktail glass, and stir.
The lemon brine, said Robert, “softens the alcoholic edge of the vodka, and the saltiness brings out a dimension of umami. The bitterness of the lemon oil fills out the taste, while the citrusy, slightly medicinal aroma excites the nose.”
You might decorate your glass with a sliver of brined lemon.
*Put whole fresh, thin-skinned, unwaxed lemons into a glass jar. Pour over the lemons brine made from one tablespoon fine salt to each cup of water. Weight the lemons, cover the jar loosely, and leave the jar at room temperature for about three weeks. Then close the jar tightly, and store it in the refrigerator.