Sep 19, 2019
I live in Chicago, and there’s this liquor—maybe some of you have heard of it—called Malort, which is made from wormwood. If you ask anyone in Chicago what their local spirit is, they’d point to Malort, perhaps tricking their own of town friends to take a straight shot of it when they come to visit the city. And everyone knows how hard it is to drink Malort. Even the founder, Carl Jeppson, was known to be quoted saying, “'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.”
Some would say that this—this sentiment—is a perfect encapsulation of the people of Chicago. Perhaps not for everyone on the first sip, but they grow on you with time. Other might find that comparison silly, but it’s interesting to figure out what a city’s chosen liquor says about the city’s history and spirit.
In this episode of the GBH Collective, I interview Gray Chapman, a freelance writer and frequent GBH contributor. She’s launching a new series for us called, “beer and a shot,” profiling the relationship between bartenders, spirits, and their relationships to the cities they inhabit. In this six part series, made in partnership with Miller High Life, Gray will write about a different city and a different bartender, and we’ll learn about a city’s culture through its choice of spirit a couple ounces at a time.
This is Gray Chapman, GBH contributor. Listen in.