Jeppson's Malört

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Jeppson's Malört
A bottle of Jeppson's Malört
Type Liqueur
Manufacturer Carl Jeppson Company
Introduced 1930s
Proof (US) 70

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,[1] which is the key ingredient in a bäsk, a bitter-flavored type of Swedish brännvin.

Malört is known for its bitter taste.[2][3][4] 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.[1][5]


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[5] 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.[6]

Label statements[edit]

For many years the label on the back of the bottle said:[7]

The label was changed and now it says:[2]

Current status[edit]

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.[8] For many years, it was only sold in the Chicago area.[9][9]

The taste of Jeppson's Malört is extremely bitter, and is alleged to be a cure for indigestion.[10]

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.[11]

In Joe Swanberg's 2013 film Drinking Buddies, drinking a shot of malort is mentioned as a Chicago tradition for erasing past mistakes.[12]

In an interview with Gothamist blog Chicagoist, humorist John Hodgman said Jeppson's Malört "tastes like pencil shavings and heartbreak."[13]

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.[14]

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.[15] The company secured the trademark on November 3, 2015.[16] Other distillers that produced a similar spirit renamed theirs beforehand. Letherbee reverted to the generic "Bäsk", while FEW Spirits dubbed theirs "Anguish and Regret".[17]

Malört makes up half of the boilermaker drink called the Chicago Handshake; the other half is an Old Style beer.[18] Some Chicago bars serve various cocktails using Malört.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Peters, Mark (November 20, 2012.) "In Chicago, a Spirit Rises Despite Bitter Reviews", Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Wolinsky, David (November 11, 2008). "Taste Test: Jeppson's Malört", The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  3. ^ Gentile, Jay (May 14, 2015). "We Made 3 Chicago Sommeliers Do a Malort Tasting", Thrillist. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  4. ^ Gray, Kevin J. (February 12, 2016). "Malort Is the Worst Booze Ever – And You Need to Try It". Paste. Retrieved June 25, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b McEwen, Melissa (May 10, 2013). "How Swedish Malort Became Chicago's Mascot Bitter Drink", NPR. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  6. ^ Brown, Mark (May 6, 2007). "What Drink Asks 'Are You Man Enough?'", Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  7. ^ "Malört. The Chicago Favorite That May Just Be the Worst Drink in the World". Drizly. May 21, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2017. 
  8. ^ Watson, Bruce (September 11, 2010). "Turning Foul Flavors Into Sweet Success", Daily Finance. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Conrad, Marissa (2015-12-21). "Drink This: Malort takes another stab at being drinkable". Retrieved 2017-12-21. 
  10. ^ Kleinman, Geoff (November 13, 2012). "Jeppson's Malort Liqueur Review", Drink Spirits. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  11. ^ Wiley, Melissa (July 30, 2013). "Malört Tastes Almost Decent In Snow Cones" Archived 2013-08-04 at the Wayback Machine., Chicagoist. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  12. ^ Krapek, Chris (October 2, 2013). "Drinking Buddies Makes Me Want to Get Drunk", Huffington Post. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  13. ^ Cavanaugh, Amy (February 2, 2013). "John Hodgman Loves Malort: "It Tastes Like Pencil Shavings And Heartbreak"". Gothamist. Archived from the original on November 3, 2014. Retrieved November 3, 2014. 
  14. ^ Wetli, Patty (September 22, 2015). "Best Malort Bar in Town: High-Hat Takes the Crown and Is Throwing a Party". DNAinfo Chicago. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Associate IP Director McGrath Details Malort's Challenging Road to Trademark Protection", The John Marshall Law School, January 6, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  16. ^ "Malört – Trademark Details", Justia Trademarks. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  17. ^ Sullivan, Emmet (March 27, 2014). "The Power of Malört". Chicago magazine. Retrieved October 22, 2017. 
  18. ^ Hernandez, Joseph (March 6, 2017). "Order a Chicago Handshake". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 

External links[edit]