After over 10 years slinging drinks behind the bar and in restaurants, Shana Leachman launched her own business, Savory ‘Sicles, popsicle cocktail mixes made to pair with alcoholic beverages that are sip-ready, no rocks required. A California native, Leachman got her start working at the Google campus Cafe 150, where all ingredients are sourced from within 150 miles of the cafe itself. Their high standards stuck with her and still influence her today as a new business owner.
The idea for Savory ‘Sicles first came to Leachman during a stint in Baltimore, where she worked as Beverage Manager of Fork & Wrench, a popular boutique dive bar. It was right around the time the craft bar movement was picking up steam, and it was there that Leachman crafted the first Savory ‘Sicles prototype as she developed a full beverage program for the restaurant and bar, including craft cocktails, specialty beer, and a curated wine list.
“When developing the cocktail menu, I channeled all the good times at local dive bars and tried to recreate cocktails with dive bar inspiration,” she says. “The infamous pickleback is one of the drinks I had to recreate. As a result, the ‘pickle pop back’ was invented and quickly gained popularity. The popularity grew to the point of getting some attention from a couple national online publications, as well as local buzz.”
When Leachman moved to Los Angeles, a former co-worker texted to say he’d met a bartender in New York City whose interest piqued when he told him about working at Fork & Wrench. The bartender knew it immediately as the place with the pickle pop backs. “This kinda blew my mind,” Leachman says, “and that was the reason I decided to go into business and start making Savory ‘Sicles.”
Fast forward six years, and Leachman has perfected her pickleback popsicle mix, and added two other flavors to the pop menu, a Moscow Mule and Bloody Mary. The popsicles are packaged like the old school squeeze pops you might remember from childhood, and are to be similarly enjoyed with the adult addition of booze, by cutting off the plastic end and placing into 1.5 oz. of your preferred spirit and swirling the pop as it melts, simultaneously chilling and flavoring your cocktail.
Whatever ingredients are locally available, Leachman sources from within the greater Los Angeles area, using pickle juice from a Silverlake pickle company called Kruegermann Pickles for the Pickle pop, and ginger beer cordial from Seabold Ginger Beer Company in Culver City for the “Mule” pop.
“I wanted to go for classics while keeping with the savory flavor profile,” Leachman says. “The pickleback is a dive bar classic; of course, the Bloody Mary (a spicier version of the classic) is a staple for any brunch libation; and the Moscow Mule is arguably the most popular cocktail around, especially due to its Los Angeles history. I make these flavors for their popularity, their uniqueness and their ability to pair diversely with different spirits.”
Leachman plans to develop more pop flavors as the business expands, and lists pairing recommendations on the Savory ‘Sicles website. She can currently be found behind the bar at The Black Cat in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, where she plans to continue slinging drinks in addition to running Savory ‘Sicles, for the love of the craft.