Not unlike the music of Chief Keef, Jeppson’s Malört is for many an acquired taste from Chicago, often generating strong reactions and stirring discussions. The 70-proof bitter liqueur is “enjoyed by only one out of every 49 drinkers who try it,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
With an 80-year-old history, the wormwood-flavored liqueur known as bäsk bränvin—the only one of its kind in the United States—is made by the Carl Jeppson Company. Bäsks are Swedish by origin, supposedly helpful in aiding your digestion, which is why the liquor is traditionally paired with rich foods.
Comedian John Hodgman described its flavor notes as akin to “pencil shavings and heartbreak” on Chicagoist. Still, there has been a growing number of people who champion Malört. As one man explains to WSJ, “The first three shots are an assault on the taste buds, but by the fourth the spirit starts to grow on you.”
Among bartenders in the Chi-Town area, Mälort enjoys a “cultish following.” Aviary beverage director Charles Joly told WSJ that hometown pride played a role in his eventual acceptance of the liqueur.