Rattlecan Preview And The Story Of The Pickleback
Chef Sammy D. recently gave me a tour of Rattlecan, the new place he and Antonio Ballatore will be opening in The Venetian later this month. As you can see, the place isn’t quite finished. But the walls and ceilings painted by world-renowned graffiti artists and the bar lined with dismantled skateboards already look damn cool.
In addition to great burgers and custom Sammy D creations, the bar will also be the first place in Las Vegas that I know of to offer pickleback shots – Jameson whiskey with a pickle juice chaser. And everyone who drinks a shot will get a token to ride a custom-built mechanical pickle.
The pickleback was reportedly invented in Brooklyn in 2006. But Sammy learned about it from the gorgeous adult film actress Kleio Valentien at the Burning Angel Brunch he and I hosted at First Food and Bar in January, after the AVN Awards. At that brunch, Sammy worked with several ladies from Burning Angel to design a menu and alcohol pairing, and Kleio asked him to serve picklebacks.
“I met with a bunch of Joanna Angel’s crew and I actually built dishes, specifically things they liked from where they came from,” he recalls. “And Kleio, she was a Texas girl — barbecue, whiskey. So we wound up doing a whiskey shot for her drink, Jameson with the pickle back. And at the end of the day, we were all sitting around doing the Jameson and the pickle shots and saying ‘wow.” It really fits the burger thing, it really goes well with it. It’s magical, the combination. And pickle juice has really come into play in a lot of different drinks now. You’re seeing it a lot more on the east coast, but it’s coming on strong.”
When I spoke to Kleio today, she told me how she discovered (or perhaps invented) picklebacks while growing up in Southeast Texas.
“We used to go to these skating rinks, and they would always have this frozen pickle juice at the skating rinks. And then we would go outside of the skating rinks and have whiskey in our backpack or something. And we would take the frozen pickle juice and suck on it after we would take a shot of whiskey.”
As for the ride, which Ballatore designed and built, Sammy says “Everybody wants to ride the pickle! … He’s a cool looking pickle. I guess it’s a he. But Mr. Pickle really has a life of his own. I mean what better place than Vegas to have a pickle ride?”
So what does Kleio think of the influence she’s about to have on the Las Vegas Strip?
“That’s just insane, I didn’t know that it was going to take off that big,” she told me. “And a mechanical pickle?! That is just insane and awesome at the same time!”
So will she ride the pickle the next time she’s in town?
“I will definitely have to come and ride the pickle. I cannot come to Vegas and not ride the pickle now!”
Sadly, the folks at Rattlecan don’t want to share any photos of the mechanical pickle just yet. But here are some shots of the what the place looks like right now. I’ll have more, and more quotes from Sammy, when we get closer to opening day.