Thursday, October 4, 2018

Four Men Enter, Two Men Leave!

Before I started judging, I drank some Malort

Malört is known for its bitter taste. It can be found in some Chicago-area taverns and liquor stores, and is growing in popularity there, but it is seldom seen elsewhere in the United States. Jeppson's Malört, a liquor, is a brand of bäsk produced by the Carl Jeppson Company of Chicago. Jeppson's Malört is named after Carl Jeppson, the Swedish immigrant who first popularized and sold the liquor in Chicago. Malört is the Swedish word for wormwood, which is the key ingredient in a bäsk, a bitter-flavored type of Swedish brännvin.

After drinking Malort, they started cooking

In the 1930s Carl Jeppson, a Swedish immigrant to Chicago, began marketing his home-made brew. The Carl Jeppson Company is currently owned by Patricia Gabelick, who took over the business after the 1999 death of long-time owner George Brode. Brode had purchased the original recipe from Carl Jeppson in the 1930s and created the famous Jeppson's Malört testimonial that once appeared on every bottle. It was made in Chicago until the mid-'70s, when the distillery that produced it for the Carl Jeppson Company closed down. Jeppson's Malört is currently made in Florida.

Malort might have been used in this dish

While Gabelick acknowledges that the drink is a "niche liquor," selling a comparatively small number of cases annually, it has gained increased relevance among bartenders, bikers, and Chicago's Hispanic community, where Gabelick notes that it has become "a rite of passage." The satirist John Hodgman has also adopted the drink in his stage show, offering shots to his audience. For many years, it was only sold in the Chicago area.
The taste of Jeppson's Malört is extremely bitter, and is alleged to be a cure for indigestion.
In Summer 2013, Chicago bar Red Door featured Malört–infused snow cones (it has a summer tradition of serving snow cones doused with alcohol). The liquor is mixed with Benedictine and Angostura orange.
In Joe Swanberg's 2013 film Drinking Buddies, drinking a shot of malort is mentioned as a Chicago tradition for erasing past mistakes.
In an interview with Gothamist blog Chicagoisthumorist John Hodgman said Jeppson's Malört "tastes like pencil shavings and heartbreak."
In August 2015, the High-Hat Club was voted "Best Malört Bar in Chicago" and was awarded the Carl Cup, a perpetual trophy that is passed from past to future champions in a manner similar to the Stanley Cup.
While most consider "Malört" to be the common name for the style of liquor, Malört is in fact, a trademarked brand name owned by Carl Jeppson Company. The company secured the trademark on November 3, 2015. Other distillers that produced a similar spirit renamed theirs beforehand. Letherbee reverted to the generic "Bäsk", while FEW Spirits dubbed theirs "Anguish and Regret".
Malört makes up half of the boilermaker drink called the Chicago Handshake; the other half is an Old Style beer. Some Chicago bars serve various cocktails using Malört.

I think I need another shot of Malort

The city flag on the label only has three stars, and not because the designer was ripping shots of the product (which he probably was), but because it pre-dates the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933, which inspired the flag's fourth star.

Tartare with a Malort reduction

The liquor was sold door-to-door by Jeppson during Prohibition, with the loophole of being medicinal alcohol. Jeppson's Malort was the only legal wormwood product sold in American for 96 years, starting in 1912 and up until 2008, when other wormwood products (like absinthe) became legal.

After all that food I really needed some Malort

Malort is an incredibly small operation (they have two employees, including the owner), and while their budget can't afford print ads, fan-created promotions are right in the brand's wheelhouse. Here's just some of their ad wizardry:
  • Malort, kick your mouth in the balls!
  • Malort, when you need to unfriend someone IN PERSON.
  • Malort, tonight's the night you fight your dad.
  • Malort, the Champagne of pain.
  • Malort, turning taste-buds into taste-foes for generations.
  • Drink Malort, it's easier than telling people you have nothing to live for.
  • Malort, what soap washes its mouth out with.
  • Malort, these pants aren't going to sh*t themselves.

After Rod won we drank some Malort

At the Marsalle distillery in Chicago during the 1960s, women that worked there would often pull bottles off the production line and drink them when they had menstrual cramps. Guess you don't need a heating pad when you can just light your stomach on fire from the inside.

The grand prize was a fancy knife...not Malort

Congrats to Roderick and Alfredo for winning that night.

I had a lot of fun.



Camera, Judging and Malort
"Malort" Mark Whittaker
Malort, 2018

Malort Influence:

1 comment:

  1. It's a beautiful place, having such an open and joyous feeling to it. It's totally amazing! This is definitely a wonderful place to spend time. It's plenty fun to sit at San Francisco venues and enjoy food and drinks with amazing conversations.