Getting in a pickle with Florence Cherruault
Florence Cherruault never thought pickle juice would alter how she lived her life, yet it did. And her story is inspiring for anyone with an open mind and an open heart, because you never know where they might take you.
A chance swig of a “Pickleback” – a popular, if cultish, tipple – in a New York bar ultimately changed her life, when she chased her shot of whiskey with a glass of pickle juice. Florence could easily have gagged and vowed “Never again”. Instead, a seed was planted and the tangy drink led to a mini-empire.
“It’s a shock when you have it,” the 28-year-old admits, “because it’s like nothing you’ve ever tried before. I always say you should have a second one. Obviously that gets you more drunk, but it’s one of those things that just works. It’s a love/ hate thing; I’ve had so many people ask, ‘What the hell is this?’, while others declare ‘it’s amazing!’ and they tell all their friends.”
And that’s how you build an audience. Florence started creating her own pickle juice in 2014, selling it to a pub who immediately requested 40 bottles. Momentum built and Florence launched her own bar in Hackney, The Pickle House, followed by a book, Pickle Juice.
“I saw pickle juice as an alcoholic addition,” Florence beams. “And now it’s nice to connect all the different ways you can use it.”
In what became a happy accident, Florence realised pickle juice was more than just the chips to whiskey’s fish; it was an undiscovered world of health, thanks in part to being packed with electrolytes contained in the salts and vinegar. So, does that really mean drinking it on a night out helps calm your hangover?
“I’ve tried and tested this,” she laughs, “and it’s hard to say. But that’s because I’m drinking other things as well! “Loads of US soccer players drink jugs of pickle juice to help alleviate muscle cramps, and there’s even a pickle juice company in the US that sells mainly for health reasons.”
And now, it’s gone beyond pickle juice. “Drinking vinegars and shrubs is my new favourite thing. It’s so good and such a nice way to drink. That vinegary bite makes it taste much better.” The ‘shrub’ Florence refers to is a combination of vinegar and sugar used to preserve fruits, and the plan is to launch a shrub soda in the new year. “It’ll be the perfect mixer for cocktails, as well as a drink in its own right.”
So, the next time you go boozing, you can tell yourself it’s research for your big business idea.
Pickle Juice by Florence Cherruault is out on 27 December (Hardie Grant, £15)