Savoury Chasers to sip on

We explore three of the most popular ‘plus ones’ of the cocktail world.

The world of cocktails has a hidden layer of complexity, and it's found in the chaser.

Whether it's a tart and tangy Sangrita or a briny Pickleback, a well-chosen chaser can both bring out nuance and balance the flavours of a spirit in surprisingly delicious ways.

In this article, we'll explore three of the most popular sidekicks, with each chaser offering its own unique addition to the drinking experience as they challenge our taste buds with their unconventional pairings.



Sangrita is a Mexican non-alcoholic drink often served with tequila. If you haven't tried it, you've missed out and it's time to take note!

Its origin is thought to date back to the 1920's and if you want to truly appreciate tequila, skip the salt and the lime and chase with this far more traditional recipe.

What is it?

Sangrita, meaning “little blood” in Spanish, is a traditional spicy juice mixture that was primarily consumed in the Mexican state of Jalisco (where it remains popular), until the global surge of popularity and interest in the late 1990s saw the drink go global. Its zesty flavours come from tomato juice, lime juice and orange juice, as well as several spices like Tabasco, chillies and salt. 

The resulting flavour can vary from surprisingly tart and refreshing to piquant and fiery. A good Sangrita is sipped for the purpose of enhancing agave spirit’s earth-driven nuances and because of that, it complements the flavour of the tequila surprisingly well. In our opinion, the main reason it works so beautifully is that Sangrita's peppery spice taste contrasts tequila's crisp herbal acidity and cleanses the palate. 

If you are making one at home - keep that end use in mind. It is meant to magnify, not mask, the flavours within the spirit.

Trawl online and you’ll find that many American recipes include a heavy dose of tomato juice. It’s easy to think that it’s a mini–Bloody Mary. It’s not. The more authentic recipes tend to be citrus heavy and dominated by orange juice, lime juice, chili powder alongside other various spices. 

Try this recipe at home but remember, a Sangrita can essentially be whatever a person wants it to be, so long as it’s acidic and spicy. To use a parallel - it’s like painting a portrait; start with a few basics, then customise it according to your palate and soon you’ll have your very own masterpiece! Ours goes like this:

150ml tomato juice

150ml orange juice

50ml freshly squeezed lime juice

50ml celery juice

4 dashes Tabasco

1 pinch salt

½ pinch of paprika



Originally a working-class tipple only known to U.S drinkers, Boilermakers are now a popular in the U.K and beyond. Its rise to mainstream status is largely due to its simplicity and its ability to bring out different qualities in the whiskey. 

What is it?

A boilermaker is made with a shot of whiskey 'chased' by a glass of beer. Or vis versa. The beer provides a mellow, refreshing slurp, while the whiskey offers a more robust, spirited sip. 

Technically, a true Boilermaker is served as a single drink, although what has been popularised and what we all know as a Boilermaker today is essentially a shot and beer combination. Irrespective of what is the original vs what is now served, it feels wrong to call a boilermaker a cocktail even though you’ll often hear it referred to it as such. 

A boilermaker where whiskey is served alongside a beer is a pairing. One where the shot is tipped into the beer (sometimes with the glass itself, Jaeger-bomb style) is well... Let’s just say that’s not a cocktail nor something we care to talk about.

Its rise to international awareness is in large part down to the infinite pairing possibilities between the varieties of whiskey and all the styles of beer. It's such a simple combo and yet there are so many options! Many bars will serve a can, bottle or draft beer alongside a shot glass of whiskey and at home - it’s just as easy. Some people will shoot the spirit before chasing it with the beer. Others will slowly sip the two beverages side by side.

Our advice is to think about the match you are making and to savour the pairing. 

There’s no rule saying which type of beer you should choose when making a Boilermaker, so the standard advice applies; Choose whatever you like to drink. However, certain styles pair better than others. A classic Bourbon or Rye works well with a light lager, while Scotch enjoys the extra flavour of an IPA. 

For those who like to go more savoury… Mezcal and larger, or a bitter Amari served with a crisp pilsner. Your options are plentiful and the perfect pairing is a quest worth undertaking. 

The Pickleback
The Pickleback

The Pickleback

“A shot of Pickle juice?!” you say. Yes. It’s delicious and don’t be surprised to hear that it’s got a cult following too.

Where did the pickle juice madness begin?

Some place the Pickleback's birth in Philadelphia, and while that's disputed, what isn't is that the drink was popularised and brought to international attention by New York City based bartenders, who then spread their pickle-loving fever to other cities all over the globe.

Picklebacks are a shot (or glass) of Bourbon or Irish Whiskey followed by a shot of pickle brine. The briny flavour of the pickle juice helps to reduce the intensity of the whiskey and adds in a pleasant, salty kick as you alternate between glasses. The result is a surprisingly delicious combo, and Pickleback’s are now a staple of many bars around the world.

It’s not all that wild when you put it into broader drinking context either. 

Nordic cultures have paired pickles and pickle brine with vodka and aquavit for generations. Martini drinkers add a splash of olive brine to their recipes to “make it dirty” and there are several savoury drinks where pickle brine can be subbed in to add layers of complexity. 

If you are going to serve it at home, look beyond the immediate effect that a shot of pickle juice does to neutralise the heat of the alcohol. Beyond the noticeable quelling consequence, there are flavour pairings to experiment with. The savoury and salty mix is an interesting way to supercharge Peated Scotch (might be OTT for some), while the herbal notes of the brine contrasts easy sipping Speysider’s. Our favourite combo remains pairing a shot with Bushmills 10yr Malt Whiskey.

From the sharp tang of the Sangrita to the briny depths of the Pickleback, there are a wealth of interesting chasers to explore. Each offers its own unique spin on the the drinking experience, and each pairing highlights a different part of a spirit's character. It's no wonder that these unconventional sidekicks are gaining such popularity! 

By Olivier Ward

12 February 2023