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What the Malort!?

What the Malort!?
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  • What the Malort!?

    Post #1 - December 23rd, 2005, 7:12 pm
    Post #1 - December 23rd, 2005, 7:12 pm Post #1 - December 23rd, 2005, 7:12 pm
    What the Malort!?

    Intrigued by the label, “Jeppson Malort has the aroma and full-bodied flavor of an unusual botanical. Its bitter taste is savored by two-fisted drinkers,” as well as the fact that it was produced in Chicago, I picked up a bottle of Malort.
    [Url=http://www.cocktaildb.com/ingr_detail?id=577]From the CocktailDB.com
    Image
    [/url]



    I tasted it, one tiny sip. It coated my tongue with an noxious bitterness that woke up bitter receptors where there shouldn’t even be bitter receptors, took ages to dissipate and led to involuntary contortions of my facial muscles so vigorous, Jim Carrey walked off my TV screen looking for an alternate career.
    What do I do with the rest?
    Under $10 at Kenwood liquors, but pm me if you are okay with an open bottle.


    Kenwood Liquors
    8810 S. Stony Island Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60617
    Phone: 773-374-0512[/img]
  • Post #2 - December 23rd, 2005, 7:38 pm
    Post #2 - December 23rd, 2005, 7:38 pm Post #2 - December 23rd, 2005, 7:38 pm
    How about using it in place of bitters. Here is a list of 133 drinks that call for bitters. I also ran across a recipe for Duck a l' Orange that called for some bitters as well.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #3 - December 23rd, 2005, 9:22 pm
    Post #3 - December 23rd, 2005, 9:22 pm Post #3 - December 23rd, 2005, 9:22 pm
    sazerac, how does it compare to other bitter liqueurs, like Cynar?
  • Post #4 - December 23rd, 2005, 11:02 pm
    Post #4 - December 23rd, 2005, 11:02 pm Post #4 - December 23rd, 2005, 11:02 pm
    I suppose it is to be used as a bitter - but the given the large bottling, I thought mistakenly that it could be used in quantities greater than a dash. If I did use it in place of other bitters, I think a toothpick-touchfull would do - but I'm not sure what other taste, 'botanical' or otherwise , it would add.

    I wasn't aware of Cynar. Looking it up I see that it does have some sugar - so wouldn't be totally bitter, like Campari say?

    The malort tasted like the squeezed juice of a couple of bitter melons, only concentrated down to the sipful I had. Did I mention it was bitter? If there was some other hint or nuance of flavor, I'm sorry, my tongue was swamped. Maybe I'll brave tasting it in dilutions.
    I can't seem to find any recipe that calls for malort specifically. Googling hints that bikers enjoy malort*. I'm guessing Malort (or Malört to be precise) tastes better after a few hours of sniffing exhaust. Am I being too bitter?


    *search term: malort drink recipe. Second hit - cached version - not in link
  • Post #5 - December 23rd, 2005, 11:52 pm
    Post #5 - December 23rd, 2005, 11:52 pm Post #5 - December 23rd, 2005, 11:52 pm
    I know it as a nasty shot that drunk frat boys drink to prove how tough they are. Accroding to my swedish ex MIL it comes from the swedish for "bad water" IIRC. No thanks:)
  • Post #6 - December 24th, 2005, 10:12 am
    Post #6 - December 24th, 2005, 10:12 am Post #6 - December 24th, 2005, 10:12 am
    You got off on the wrong foot; you drink the crap.
    My first introduction was about 35 years ago when a
    co-worker tricked me into drinking it. I forget exactly how
    he did it, but it was kind of like we're going to do this, it's
    just who's buying the first one. And I've never looked back.

    In later years found to be consumed heavily in Ukraian Village
    by Ukies and Poles alike, pre gentrification. The second
    largest Chicago metropolitan consumer is Ez Inn aprox.
    921 N. Western. Like to visit the first.

    One of the problems is they put it in the same isle with the
    sweet crap, like amaretto or galleono (I'm dating myself).
    This "unusual botanical" is nothing you put in a brandy
    sniffer and savor; it's meant to be thrown down your throat
    followed by your favorite chaser (most people beer, Fireman
    John followed his with scotch & water).

    When consumed like this there is absolutely no bite. After a
    day of waxing philosophically at Ez Inn or one of my other
    watering holes, the eldest and I end up BSing at the dining
    room table. He's in for the night so I ask him if he wants a
    shot. OK. He goes "It tastes like sh-t". I reply
    "Well you didn't think I was going to give You something
    that tastes good, did You?"
  • Post #7 - December 24th, 2005, 10:39 am
    Post #7 - December 24th, 2005, 10:39 am Post #7 - December 24th, 2005, 10:39 am
    sazerac wrote:I wasn't aware of Cynar. Looking it up I see that it does have some sugar - so wouldn't be totally bitter, like Campari say?


    Sazerac,

    I'd say Cynar is slightly more bitter than Campari, but very drinkable. I was attracted to it by the huge artichoke on the label, but I can't say I've ever picked up any essence of artichoke in this beverage. I do like it though, and it would make an excellent stomach-settling after-dinner drink in this season of excess.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #8 - December 27th, 2005, 4:28 am
    Post #8 - December 27th, 2005, 4:28 am Post #8 - December 27th, 2005, 4:28 am
    Why, I just had malört snaps with my Swedish Christmas buffet (julbord) on Saturday!

    It's labeled under a million names over here (Beska droppar, Piratens besk - "besk" means bitter, as you maybe can see) and with varying degrees of bitterness but it all tastes about the same and much as you describe it. It is reputed to have excellent effects/enhancements on digestion which is of considerable importance when gorging as one does at the julbord.

    My suggestion? Try a shot or two next time you sit down to a heavy, rich dinner (any non-Swedish wives may look at you funny but you won't notice after a few "Skåls!"). If it simply is too bitter then perhaps you can dilute it with a small amount of vodka?

    I'm not familiar with any Swedish cocktails using malört snaps (at least any that aren't in the impress-your-teenage-friends category) and I wonder if it's not too one-dimensional to replace Angostura in my manhattens.

    P.S. According to a Swedish site I'm looking at, the latin name is "Artemisia absinthium" which brings us to the seemingly ever-fascinating subject of Absinthe. Could Malört ("Wormwood" in English) be the mystical "wormwood" that is reputed to have given absinthe its hallucinogenic properties? I personally felt more uncomfortably full than artistically roused this past Saturday but with the mother-in-law pouring, perhaps my dose wasn't up to Moulin Rouge standards...

    For Antonius: not sure how your Swedish is but, "Artnamnet absinthium kommer av grekiskans absinthos (beskt men nyttigt) och syftar på den bittra smaken. Det svenska namnet malört kommer enligt Retzius (1806) av att man trodde att den kunde fördriva mal." Or, (loosely) "the species name absinthium comes from the Greek "absinthos" (bitter but healthy) and refers to the bitter taste. According to Retzius (1806), the Swedish name, malört, comes from the belief that it could repel moths."
  • Post #9 - May 30th, 2007, 9:37 pm
    Post #9 - May 30th, 2007, 9:37 pm Post #9 - May 30th, 2007, 9:37 pm
    Bridgestone wrote:P.S. According to a Swedish site I'm looking at, the latin name is "Artemisia absinthium" which brings us to the seemingly ever-fascinating subject of Absinthe. Could Malört ("Wormwood" in English) be the mystical "wormwood" that is reputed to have given absinthe its hallucinogenic properties?


    Just wanted to update this. I just had Malort for the first time last night at Yak-Zie's after vaguely describing the drink to the bartender as "some supposedly awful tasting only-in-Chicago" liquor. He knew exactly what I was talking about. After a half shot taster, I could definitely confirm that this is wormwood. Wormwood has a very distinct, deep-in-the-back-of-the-tongue bitterness that I have never experienced with any other food or drink. I have some Polish wormwood tea in the house, and Malort tastes exactly like this stuff.

    I'm not exactly sure how this fits in with the prohibition against thujone (the chemical in wormwood that is responsible for absinthe's supposed extra intoxicating properties) content in liquors in the United States. The law states that any food or liquor containing Artemisia species in it must be thujone free.
  • Post #10 - May 31st, 2007, 7:07 pm
    Post #10 - May 31st, 2007, 7:07 pm Post #10 - May 31st, 2007, 7:07 pm
    I don't know. The packaging, plus made in Chicago, makes me suspect Malort was maybe grandfathered in.
  • Post #11 - May 31st, 2007, 7:42 pm
    Post #11 - May 31st, 2007, 7:42 pm Post #11 - May 31st, 2007, 7:42 pm
    Via the Wikipedia entry on Malort, i found this Sun-Times article from earlier this month:

    STNG ::What drink asks 'are you man enough?
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #12 - May 31st, 2007, 9:09 pm
    Post #12 - May 31st, 2007, 9:09 pm Post #12 - May 31st, 2007, 9:09 pm
    germuska wrote:Via the Wikipedia entry on Malort, i found this Sun-Times article from earlier this month:

    STNG ::What drink asks 'are you man enough?


    Actually, I had added that link to the Wikipedia entry. :)
  • Post #13 - May 31st, 2007, 9:14 pm
    Post #13 - May 31st, 2007, 9:14 pm Post #13 - May 31st, 2007, 9:14 pm
    Binko wrote:Actually, I had added that link to the Wikipedia entry. :)

    Beautiful!
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #14 - May 31st, 2007, 10:19 pm
    Post #14 - May 31st, 2007, 10:19 pm Post #14 - May 31st, 2007, 10:19 pm
    Take a swig, take a pic, and post it here:

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/malortface/

    grace
  • Post #15 - May 31st, 2007, 10:37 pm
    Post #15 - May 31st, 2007, 10:37 pm Post #15 - May 31st, 2007, 10:37 pm
    I had malort once, which is one too many times.

    Less than a heartbeat after drinking malort I headed out the door of the tavern as I was absolutely sure I was about to retch everything I'd consumed the previous 24-hours in the following 8-seconds.

    I would have made for the bathroom, but the front door was closer.

    Regards,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #16 - July 27th, 2007, 10:08 pm
    Post #16 - July 27th, 2007, 10:08 pm Post #16 - July 27th, 2007, 10:08 pm
    Malort is a decent, if mild, herbal digestif.

    For anyone who has ventured into the foothills of Fernet Branca, this Chicago original (now, apparently, made in Florida) beverage is downright well-mannered, sedate, almost a wallflower.

    I attribute the disdain for this drink to:

    • Their marketing, which seems to revel in its alleged vileness -- but it is not vile. Its wormwood rep is its cache.
    • The inability of many American palates to appreciate the bitter. Okay, on this point, I know I'm coming off a little high-handed, but I repeat: Americans generally do not understand bitter as a taste value. "Bitter" is a bad word in our gustatory vocabulary.

    So, The Wife and I finished the requisite three tastes. If 1 in 49 men like the stuff, and The Wife digs it, then that makes her 1 in a million.

    Me like Malort.

    Hammond

    PS. GWiv, you do not want to drink Malort after a night of drinking. It’s an aperitif. You drink it after eating.
    Last edited by David Hammond on July 29th, 2007, 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #17 - July 27th, 2007, 10:55 pm
    Post #17 - July 27th, 2007, 10:55 pm Post #17 - July 27th, 2007, 10:55 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Malort is a decent, if mild, herbal aperitif.

    Hammond,

    I have had the pleasure of dining in your company at the table, bar, counter, drive-thru, car trunk, tree trunk, park bench........ more times than I can remember, have you ever, once, seen me exhibit squeamishness at the prospect of strong, bitter flavors?

    I will never, unless large amounts of money or a 12-gauge shotgun are involved, have even the tiniest sip of Malort.

    You description of Malort as "mild herbal" befuddles me, I wonder if we had Malort produced by different manufactures even though a cursory web search suggests there is only one producer of this vile brew.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Last edited by G Wiv on July 28th, 2007, 7:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #18 - July 27th, 2007, 11:02 pm
    Post #18 - July 27th, 2007, 11:02 pm Post #18 - July 27th, 2007, 11:02 pm
    Bra, I will admit, I chilled this bottle to frosty temps, but let it sit in the glass before swigging, and it is nowhere near as intense as some similar Milanese recipes.

    I think it has a lot to do with when you drink it; it really has to be after eating. Just a small glass. If you've been enjoying late night beverages for hours, I can see why Malort would be unpalatable.

    Plus, it has a scary name and rep.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #19 - July 27th, 2007, 11:20 pm
    Post #19 - July 27th, 2007, 11:20 pm Post #19 - July 27th, 2007, 11:20 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Plus, it has a scary name and rep.

    Yes, that's what put me off, I'm just a big fraidycat. ;)
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #20 - July 28th, 2007, 5:01 am
    Post #20 - July 28th, 2007, 5:01 am Post #20 - July 28th, 2007, 5:01 am
    For me, there's only one thought when at a bar that carries Malort:

    Would I rather drink petroleum when filling up the car or imbibe this foulest of foul?

    And I love all sorts of bitters.
  • Post #21 - July 28th, 2007, 5:52 am
    Post #21 - July 28th, 2007, 5:52 am Post #21 - July 28th, 2007, 5:52 am
    PIGMON wrote:For me, there's only one thought when at a bar that carries Malort:

    Would I rather drink petroleum when filling up the car or imbibe this foulest of foul?

    And I love all sorts of bitters.


    While acknowledging the distinct possibility that I may simply be full of hooey on this point, I think there are several other possible explanations for why we differ here:

    • Both you and GWiv mention having Malort in a bar; as mentioned above, I would not think this is the way to enjoy a bitter.
    • I had a very well-chilled bottle: it was covered with frost after seven or so hours in my freezer. Such near-freezing temps undoubtedly took off the edge (this is the first time in memory that I have had a chilled bitter; usually I just have a small glass of Ramazzotti or Fernet Branca after a big dinner, right out of the liquor cabinet, no ice).
    • This beverage is so off the charts in the minds of most that it probably lacks a well-defined profile in the market, perhaps their quality control is a little loose and so maybe I did simply get a “good” bottle.
    • It sounds from what I’ve read that Malort is kind of a joke – I would not put it past bartenders to keep a bottle labeled Malort on hand, which they then fill with all kinds of crap just to give people who demand free drinks, piss them off, etc.
    • Of course, maybe you and GWiv are, as the great man suggested, just nipple babies who can’t handle a drink.

    And really, Pigmon, have you ever had petroleum? Because I don’t think that Texaco super premium is bad at all.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #22 - July 28th, 2007, 11:44 pm
    Post #22 - July 28th, 2007, 11:44 pm Post #22 - July 28th, 2007, 11:44 pm
    My only shot is Malort. I used to shoot Jameson, but i just dont anymore.

    Malort is gaining more and more popularity, and selfishly, i think it sucks. I hope the product doesn't change. As of now, the operation in which malort is produced is pretty neat.

    The only places you'll find malort (until Timeout ran an article on it) were dive bars.

    I avoid the cocky, stuck up, collar popped college crowds and high drink prices by going to sh*thole bars - where the drinks are cheap and the people real. Malort used to be found only in these places.

    Nowadays, it's a novelty. People take it to taste "how gross it is." But after while, you really start to appreciate it's taste.

    It was a tradition at the Green Mill that the bartenders take a shot of Malort with you whenever you ordered it. Don't know if this is still true nowadays.

    Either way - i hope the Malort phase doesn't keep hold, i get close to my alcoholic drinks, and to see it made into a novelty to "who can stomach it" makes me sad.

    So, I'm totally with Hammond here - it took me a couple shots to really like it, but from the get-go i was definately intrigued, so i pressed on. I drink my Malort at room temp though.
  • Post #23 - July 29th, 2007, 1:58 pm
    Post #23 - July 29th, 2007, 1:58 pm Post #23 - July 29th, 2007, 1:58 pm
    Not to stray too far off topic, but isn't an aperitif meant to be consumed before eating a meal? (Although I believe aperitifs might typically be consumed with some sort of appetizer or hors d'oeuvre like olives or something similar.) I thought it was a digestif that was meant to be an after meal drink. I believe aperitifs are meant to prime the system for food, so to speak, while digestifs aid post-meal digestion.

    Of course, there are probably regional variations at play as well in terms of what is considered an aperitif or digestif. I know from visiting family in France that they treat Campari and similar bitters as well as anisettes as pre-meal aperitifs, with cognac, whiskeys and fortified wines as digestifs.

    Back to Malort, if it is considered to be a form of snaps, I would think (based on Bridgestone's cooking posts and comment above) that it is consumed with a meal. So perhaps it's neither aperitif or digestif, really.
  • Post #24 - July 29th, 2007, 2:58 pm
    Post #24 - July 29th, 2007, 2:58 pm Post #24 - July 29th, 2007, 2:58 pm
    A while back, my friends and I came to the conclusion that the Malort currently produced in Florida is less bitter than the original stuff. I wonder if they toned it down for the modern market? A friend had an old unopened bottle (at least 20 years old) that came from his uncle's basement. It really did seem more flavorful, but maybe it just gets more bitter with age. I am a big fan of bitter things, so I am probably not a good judge. If he still has some left, I might arrange a side-by-side comparison.
  • Post #25 - July 29th, 2007, 3:16 pm
    Post #25 - July 29th, 2007, 3:16 pm Post #25 - July 29th, 2007, 3:16 pm
    Matt wrote:Not to stray too far off topic, but isn't an aperitif meant to be consumed before eating a meal? (Although I believe aperitifs might typically be consumed with some sort of appetizer or hors d'oeuvre like olives or something similar.) I thought it was a digestif that was meant to be an after meal drink. I believe aperitifs are meant to prime the system for food, so to speak, while digestifs aid post-meal digestion.


    You are absolutely right. I misused the word and will edit my earlier post to reflect this correction. Malort is a digestif. Thanks.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #26 - July 29th, 2007, 3:36 pm
    Post #26 - July 29th, 2007, 3:36 pm Post #26 - July 29th, 2007, 3:36 pm
    Are you sure? I think it's actually an aperitif.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #27 - July 29th, 2007, 3:54 pm
    Post #27 - July 29th, 2007, 3:54 pm Post #27 - July 29th, 2007, 3:54 pm
    gleam wrote:Are you sure? I think it's actually an aperitif.


    Neither label nor accompanying "booklet" designate it as either; they call it a "two-fist liquor" (again with the posturing), but whatever they call it, for me its signal bitterness makes it a digestif.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #28 - September 8th, 2008, 10:48 am
    Post #28 - September 8th, 2008, 10:48 am Post #28 - September 8th, 2008, 10:48 am
    David Hammond wrote:Malort is a decent, if mild, herbal digestif.

    For anyone who has ventured into the foothills of Fernet Branca, this Chicago original (now, apparently, made in Florida) beverage is downright well-mannered, sedate, almost a wallflower.


    I find this surprising. Shortly after I opened the Malort, took a sip, and filled a plastic water bottle for the picnic, I went to another liquor store, search for Carpano Antica sweet vermouth. No luck, but the lady at the counter for some reason offered me a sip of Fernet Branca, which she had for some reason just opened. (She wasn't interested in my reciprocal offer of Malort.)

    Malort struck me as far, far, far more bitter than Fernet Branca (and with a much longer finish but less complexity), both tasted warm, and shortly before noon, following no stretch of eating nor drinking.

    The nose and initial hit (of Malort) struck me as deceptively sweet and mild. I wouldn't say Malort is terrible, but man, it's bitter--easily the most bitter of bitters I've tasted. Talking with Toby Maloney at the Violet Hour last month, he spoke in Holy Grail-terms about a Malort cocktail. I hope he succeeds (or does someone else with whom similar conservations were had this past weekend).

    Actually, maybe I would say Malort is terrible, but I can see giving it another shot, as it were--not as terrible as it's reputation, in any case.
  • Post #29 - September 8th, 2008, 10:59 am
    Post #29 - September 8th, 2008, 10:59 am Post #29 - September 8th, 2008, 10:59 am
    Aaron Deacon wrote:Talking with Toby Maloney at the Violet Hour last month, he spoke in Holy Grail-terms about a Malort cocktail. I hope he succeeds (or does someone else with whom similar conservations were had this past weekend).


    Get out. Does Toby actually have a Malort cocktail up his sleeve, or is it "holy grail"-like in that you can't make a good Malort cocktail (so it's as elusive as the Holy Grail)? I'd try Malort again in Toby's hands, but probably not before. :)
  • Post #30 - September 8th, 2008, 11:04 am
    Post #30 - September 8th, 2008, 11:04 am Post #30 - September 8th, 2008, 11:04 am
    aschie30 wrote:Get out. Does Toby actually have a Malort cocktail up his sleeve, or is it "holy grail"-like in that you can't make a good Malort cocktail (so it's as elusive as the Holy Grail)? I'd try Malort again in Toby's hands, but probably not before. :)


    "Holy Grail" in that he hasn't discovered it, but would love to find one he can put on the menu.

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