A bottle of Jeppson's Malört
|Manufacturer||Carl Jeppson Company|
Jeppson's Malört [yeppsons maal-ehrt], 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.
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.
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.
For many years the label on the back of the bottle said:
"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”
The label was changed and now it says:
"Jeppson Malort has the aroma and full-bodied flavor of an unusual botanical. It's [sic] bitter taste is savored by two-fisted drinkers."
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.
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 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 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".
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- 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.
- 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.
- "Associate IP Director McGrath Details Malort's Challenging Road to Trademark Protection", The John Marshall Law School, January 6, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- "Malört – Trademark Details", Justia Trademarks. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
- Sullivan, Emmet (March 27, 2014). "The Power of Malört". Chicago magazine. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
- Hernandez, Joseph (March 6, 2017). "Order a Chicago Handshake". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 1, 2017.