Food and Drink

We Try TikTok Famous Kool-Aid Pickles

This sweet-tart snack is for every pickle lover.

Photo by La Belle et La Boeuf
Photo by La Belle et La Boeuf
Photo by La Belle et La Boeuf

Hot girls eat pickles. This is a mantra that’s been repeatedly stated on Twitter and Tumblr and TikTok and elsewhere, and although I don’t know its exact roots, I’m inclined to believe it because I am both a hot girl and a pickle lover.

So when I came across viral videos showing fellow hot girls making Kool-Aid pickles, I knew this was something I had to try-in the name of science and gastronomy. Is this going to be a vinegar and sugar revelation? Does its red and green hue make it an appropriate Christmas appetizer, or better yet, gift? Is adding Kool-Aid to pickles a completely absurd endeavor? All these questions, answered.

What are Kool-Aid Pickles?

Kool-Aid pickles-sometimes known as koolickles, pickoolas, or red pickles-are frequently found throughout the South. Atlas Obscura reports that a Mississippi-based convenience store chain, Double Quick, keeps this sweet and salty treat stocked.

The premise is simple: Add powdered fruit punch-flavored Kool Aid mix to a jar of pickles, stir, and let the pickles absorb the artificial fruit punch flavor over the course of a couple days. The longer you keep the pickles sitting, the redder and sweeter they become.

This phenomenon has spread to far away lands, like Montreal’s La Belle et La Boeuf where red pickles arrive alongside burgers, and Long Beach, California’s Wut-A-Pickle (which also carries a rainbow of other flavors like blue raspberry lemonade, watermelon, tropical berry, mango, and more).

If sweet and savory works in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, on a charcuterie board, or salt flecked chocolate chip cookies, who is to say that it won’t work in a pickle?

Making my own Kool-Aid Pickles

I knew I needed to find out for myself if this is an appropriate hot girl pickle recipe. For my own attempt at this, I added one ounce of powder to a 32-ounce jar of pickles (Grillo’s is my absolute favorite), stirred, and waited.

The color and smell initially threw me-is it possible for dill and garlic to live harmoniously with neon red fruit punch powder?-but I did not let that, or the negative responses to my Instagram story documenting this creation, deter me.

I ended up letting my pickles absorb the fruit punch flavor for two days. When I finally fished them out, they were as red as a Starbucks holiday cup and smelled equally like vinegar and Kool-Aid. I am not embarrassed to admit that I immediately salivated.

The flavor, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, tastes like how you would imagine it to: sweet, garlicky, salty, tart, and juicy. But instead of duking it out for flavor supremacy, the Kool-Aid shockingly tones down the abrasive garlic flavor and is a welcomed balm. I even drank the Kool-Aid dyed pickle juice, which was refreshing, and immediately decided it would make for a wonderful martini. Sure, it wouldn’t be the classiest cocktail in all the land-James Bond wouldn’t order it shaken or stirred-but I know my fellow hot girl pickle lovers would appreciate it.

What else should I add to pickles?

Spurred by the revelation that adding Kool-Aid to pickles is actually a good thing, I began experimenting. A packet of Hidden Valley Ranch powder in a jar of pickles makes for a seriously salty concoction that will annihilate your breath. But if you’re a fan of buttermilk ranch and pickles as I am, it’s fantastic. Barbecue seasoning packets mellow out the acidity of pickles, leaving a brown sugar and chipotle-kissed flavor that wasn’t my favorite, but would make sense at an actual barbecue. Chamoy, the salted pickled plum sauce commonly found at frutero carts, adds to the puckeriness of pickles and sharpens the whole thing. A dash of Tajín helps.

With these experiences and flavors, alongside heightened blood pressure from all the sodium I’ve consumed, I’ve learned not to judge people’s pickle preparations. Everyone likes things a bit differently-pickled carrots, pickled watermelon rinds, pickled pickles. Some may like their pickles with peanut butter. Others, a sugary sprinkling of Kool-Aid. There are pickle soups, pickle sandwiches, and pickle egg rolls out there. Whatever the case, we as hot girl pickle lovers are united in our appreciation for this spectacular preserved food and shall not pass judgment. It’s just not part of the dill.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat!

Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer of food & drink at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.

Food and Drink

Why Makrut Lime Makes a Star Ingredient in Cocktails

The Southeast Asian citrus is intensely aromatic and pairs with rum, gin, tequila, and more.

Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks
Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks
Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks

I grew up with a makrut lime tree in my backyard, admiring the double leaves and dimpled citrus fruit that frequently made their way into our family dinners. Makrut limes, which are sometimes referred to kaffir limes (although the term is controversial and has been widely retired), are native to Southeast Asia, but somehow my mom willed a tree to grow in our Southern California home with great success.

To me, makrut meant savoury Thai food: steamed fish curry wrapped in banana leaves and sprinkled with chiffonade makrut, simmering tom kha gai with floating bits of the hand-torn citrus leaves, and glistening green curry accentuated by the plant’s aroma.

But to others, makrut is an ideal ingredient in cocktails and other drinks. Such is the case for Fish Cheeks, a Thai restaurant in Manhattan known for its seafood dishes and eclectic, complementary cocktail menu. Beverage director Beau Fontano knew he had to include makrut in his creations, especially because the ingredient is so prominent on the food menu. Makrut lime finds its way in several drinks, most notably as a garnish atop the Thank You Kha, a riff on the acidic coconut stew tom kha gai, and the Manao Mao, a rum-based drink that uses makrut lime bitters.

“I don’t love using the word tiki, but if you think of those tiki rum cocktails, makrut definitely works well in those,” Fontano says. “But I also love it in martinis-there’s something really clean about it. And with makrut lime, if you’re just using the leaves, you can do a lot of rapid infusions.”

Fontano only uses the leaves, because the rinds and juice of makrut limes are famously bitter. “Regular lime has a little bit more sugar content, so that’s why it’s much more approachable in cocktails. Makrut limes tend to be more dry,” he explains. “But when you use the leaves in cocktails, you just smack it to wake it up a little bit and it gets that nice citrusy, refreshing aroma which is really fun.”

The leaves are cut fresh, so each drink has the scent of makrut lime leaves wafting off of them. “I’m sure at one point I will get around to it and try to figure out how to use the juice,” he laughs.

Further north at Paper Tiger in Portland, Maine, makrut lime leaves are also prevalent in a cocktail called Something Scandalous, a tequila-based drink intended to be, in the words of bartender Nick Reevy, “crushed easily.”

Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger

“I went with tequila, specifically, because in Maine it’s 80 degrees and humid pretty much all summer,” Reevy explains. “So I made something you kick back easily. Agave has a really nice softness that elevates the makrut lime, and the main flavour in that drink is the Thai basil.”

The drink is an alluring shade of green and is rounded out by cinnamon syrup and falernum. “Makrut lime is really herbal and bright in a way no other citrus is,” Reevy adds. “It’s interchangeable with other limes, but it just adds this whole other depth of flavour.”Makrut lime has even made its way into hard seltzer, albeit a limited edition drop from Lunar. Founder Kevin Wong knew he wanted to add another citrus drink to his rotation as he witnessed the successes of hard lemonades, but already had a yuzu iteration. Makrut lime seemed like a natural follow-up.

Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar

“It has a very intense citrus fragrance, almost perfumey or soapy,” Wong ponders. “Like I could see Le Labo putting out a makrut lime fragrance. It has such a commanding presence and body.”

To tamper down some of the boldness of the makrut lime, the hard seltzer uses makrut lime leaf extract, lime juice, and cane sugar. The aromatics of the lime are present without too much bitterness; instead, the seltzer is grassy, acidic, and dry. Wong recommends pairing the can with spicy foods, especially Szechuan dry pot.

The makrut lime seltzer is currently sold out, and Wong is unsure whether or not another batch is in the works. “I feel like makrut lime is the greatest secret unknown to the Western world,” he says. “It’s in medicine, candy, herbal drinks, cosmetics and aromatherapy. I think we did the seltzer too early, and I don’t know if the world is ready for us to bring it back yet. Maybe in a couple of years.”

But judging by the growing popularity of makrut lime in beverage menus, the comeback might be sooner than he expects.

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.

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