Chicago is a city that likes alcohol in many of it's various forms. Old Style at a Cubs game, a flask to warm up the body at Soldier Field, a bottle of wine during Movies in the Park : these are common practices in the Windy City. But there is one liquor so foul, that only the most hard-core of drinkers can handle it. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Jeppson's Malort.
"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." --from the label. The 1 in 49 might be underselling it. Few drinkers in Chicago are aware of Malort, and fewer still return for a second taste.
The distilled beverage contains wormwood, and is a Swedish style of schnapps. Made in Lake Alfred, Florida it has a murky, yellowish tint that compliments the musky/ disinfectant-like aroma. Malort coats the mouth, not unlike Sambuca, and lingers on the palate for several minutes. Rancid grapefruit and grain alcohol are the easiest tastes to identify, the rest is a subjective mystery.
One person actively spreading the unique Malort experience is Kess, a bartender at Murphy's Bleachers. For fifteen years, he has been enjoying the spirit and sells about two bottles a week. . Ticket brokers, off-duty cops, and other regulars crowd the bar on Sundays when Malort is on special for three dollars. Not only does Kess recommend the drink, he sports a Cubs jersey that reads 'Malort 1' on the back. As an expert, he recommends soda water to get rid of the lingering aftertaste.
Malort is gaining a bit of a cult following. There is a fantastic Onion/AV Club review here, and a flickr page dedicated to the 'Malort face.' Jeppson's can by ordered through Binny's Beverage Depot and is available in Wrigleyville at Murphy's Bleachers and Yak-Zies. Consume at your own risk.