The Unexpected Ingredient In Padma Lakshmi's Go-To NYE Punch

All around the world, New Year's Eve is celebrated with various food and drink traditions, generally aimed not only at having a fun and delicious time but also at bringing good luck for the coming year. If you live in Spain, you might consume 12 grapes at midnight, each representing a month of the calendar year ahead; in Japan, you might attempt to slurp down entire soba noodles, since breaking one by biting is said to bring bad luck; in Greece, you might fork into vasilopita cake, seeking the slice with a coin inside (via Reader's Digest).

No matter where you're spending New Year's Eve this year, though, the chances are good you'll be offered — or will be offering — a glass of punch. Considered to be the earliest type of cocktail, according to Difford's Guide, punches are made from a mix of fruit or citrus juices with spirits and other flavorings, including dried spices. Typically served out of a big communal bowl or pot, popular punches include Mexico's ponche (made with hibiscus flowers and the unrefined sugar piloncillo, per Mexico in My Kitchen) and German feuerzangenbowle (a hot mulled wine that Hollerbach's explains is ignited with a rum-soaked sugar cube).

If you're toasting New Year's Eve with food celebrity Padma Lakshmi, however, you might find that your glass of punch includes an unexpected, savory ingredient.

Lakshmi's tequila punch includes spicy pickle brine

Padma Lakshmi isn't known to shy away from boldness in her food, and it appears that the same applies to her drinks as well. In a video posted to her Twitter page, Lakshmi shared a recipe for citrus punch that includes some of the usual suspects — that is, grapefruit, tangerine, and lime juices, along with ice and club soda — and one unexpected one: A dash of the brine from a jar of pickled jalapeños.

Hot pickle juice in a sweet punch? It might sound unusual, but Lakshmi adds just a little bit, which she explains brings a "briny, salty, spicy edge" to her signature drink. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it: Brine is actually a fairly favored ingredient in citrus cocktails, and mixologists have been known to mix some pickle juice into their margaritas. Since tequila is made from distilled agave nectar, it's naturally sweet, Liquor Laboratory notes, and is particularly well complemented by spicy, salty pickle brine. Cheers, Padma!