I first tried chef Paul Reilly’s house-made pickles at last August’s Denver Burger Battle. The crisp, garlicky slices were less acidic and more addictive than most grocery store varieties, and months later I’m still thinking about that pickle.

When I heard that Reilly had added a pickle-inspired cocktail to Encore on Colfax‘s bar menu, I was anxious to belly up.

Paul’s Briny Barnacle is a simple blend of Monopolowa vodka, pickle brine (leftover from Reilly’s summer batches), and a teensy splash of olive juice served up in a martini glass—all garnished with a slice of pickle threaded on a pick. As an admitted olive hater, I was skeptical, but the cocktail is smooth and delicious (and devoid of all obvious olive-ness). The pickle taste is overt but not overwhelming, and the acidity is almost completely dissipated by the vodka.

Warning: This drink produces one unexpected effect: It’ll make you crave a hamburger. Order the Encore burger with Gruyère-bacon-blue-cheese compote and a side of fabulous house-cut fries with hot mustard drizzle.

2550 E. Colfax Ave., 303-355-1112

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at daliahsinger.com.