Peter’s Adventures in Alcohol: Chicago’s Disgusting Love

There are moments in your life that you will never forget. Your first kiss, losing your V-Card, seeing your hometown team win a sports title. Feelings that when you look back on, you look back on with fondness and often smile thinking about. But when it comes to Jeppson’s Malort, that is a taste and memory that I will never be able to get out of my head.

It was early April, and we were heading to Chicago to celebrate my friend Freddy’s Bachelor Party. Freddy’s real name was Marc, but his nickname was Freddy so we were considering this his funeral as he was passing away to get married to his wife. So our goal for the weekend, was to get Freddy absolutely shit faced.

Friday night we stayed in and decided that we would just drink at home and save our energy, money (and our livers) for Saturday night.

Throughout the entire weekend, it was a pretty normal bachelor party. Dudes getting iced left and right (one was hidden in a giant box of pretzels, shithousery of the highest degree right there.) But we had no idea for the special type of hell we were in for on Saturday night.

We were staying in Bolingbrook, Illinois which is a pretty quiet, upscale suburban city on the Southwest Side of Chicago. We decided that we were going to stay local for the night, and not spend $1000 each in Downtown that night. There was a big sports bar down the street, we decided on that, and took two hours to get there in typical male fashion, but we got there.

When we got there, the bar was pretty packed. Lots of good looking women around, but my eyes were on two things: the Bluejackets game and the alcohol. Got to keep your eyes on the true prize. After Matt Duchene scored the winner in overtime, we proceeded to get absolutely blasted.

Then I started doing typical Peter things, running to the bartender and seeing the worst possible shot they can humanly make. As I looked into the bartenders big, beautiful brown eyes, there was something about her I was into. Maybe it was the copious amounts of alcohol she had infront of her, or the fact that she was drop dead gorgeous. Either way, I braved up, and uttered the words, “I need fifteen of the worst shots you have.” She looked at me with a devilish smile, and said, “I know just the thing.” My alcohol senses were tingling, I was excited to see what she was going to come up with.

She came back with the fifteen shots, turned to me and said, “that will be fifteen dollars, sweetie.” Fifteen dollars? Fifteen dollars! Man, I must have done something right to get fifteen shots for that cheap. When I picked the tray of shots up, she stopped me and said, “don’t go running away, you are taking a shot with me before you go.” I was a little distracted from my drinking game at this point, but I couldn’t say no to a shot, right? Momma didn’t raise no bitch, I said, “hell yeah!”

We said cheers, dinked our classes, hit the wooden bar and threw them back.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT!?!?! THAT IS FUCKING GOD AWFUL!” I yelled back. She immediately started laughing and said, “welcome to Chicago, home of Malort.”

The taste is so bad, it is borderline indescribeable. It tasted like bleach, nail polish remover, bug spray, hairspray, mothballs and Jaeger all in one shot. It is a shot that is so bad, that even the CEO of the company that makes Malort described it as, “ass, gas and fire.”

Jeppson’s Malort was founded by a Swedish immigrant, Carl Jeppson, who immigrated to Chicago in the 1930s. The drink is made from wormwood, which is used to kill stomach parasites. Jeppson made the drink so strong and unique after years of smoking ruined his taste buds forced him to make something so disgusting, that he came up with Malort. The original label on the bottle read,

“Most first-time drinkers of Jeppson Malort reject our liquor. Its strong, sharp taste is not for everyone. Our liquor is rugged and unrelenting (even brutal) to the palate. During almost 60 years of American distribution, we found only 1 out of 49 men will drink Jeppson Malort. During the lifetime of our founder, Carl Jeppson was apt to say, ‘My Malort is produced for that unique group of drinkers who disdain light flavor or neutral spirits.’ It is not possible to forget our two-fisted liquor. The taste just lingers and lasts – seemingly forever. The first shot is hard to swallow! Perservere [sic]. Make it past two ‘shock-glasses’ and with the third you could be ours… forever.”

Sounds tasty, right?

Here are some thoughts on the taste of Malort,

Malort, tonight’s the night you fight your Dad.”

Malort uses the same process as vodka, but instead of using potatoes, they used recycled tires.”

“The dominant flavor is earwax with a hint of kerosene.”

“Malort, when you want to unfriend someone in person.”

“Malort tastes like a used bandaid.”

It tastes like soy sauce with vinegar and a hint of marinated toenails in a sweaty shoe.”

My friend Aaron the day after he took the shot said that, “I still remember the shot and I was blacked out.”

While I am giving Malort a bad name, that is what it exactly wants: people talking about it. It is SO BAD that you almost have to have a shot of it every time you are in Chicago if you are not from there. It is a gimmick liquor, with the worst aftertaste of anything you could possibly imagine drinking, but I still love it.

Long live Jeppson’s Malort.

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