Jeppson’s Malört, the iconic bitter liquor that Chicagoans have grown to love since 1930s, is finally coming back home. CH Distillery, a Pilsen-based liquor creator, purchased malort from Carl Jeppson Col. for an undisclosed price this week, bringing Chicago’s favorite beverage back from Florida to the city where it was popularized in dive bars like Rossi’s in River North and Richard’s in the West Loop. Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood has also been known to serve a shot or two of malort with their deliciously famous burgers.
Tremaine Atkinson, founder of CH Distillery, says that his company will keep the name and won’t change up the recipe at all. Their West Loop tasting room, located near many restaurants and apartment buildings, will serve shots of malort for anyone of legal drinking age. While it will be served in the West Loop, the beloved spirit will be produced in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.
Chicago’s relationship with malort is a fascinating one, marked by viral videos of “malort face” and inspiring other companies to make their own versions of Jeppson’s classic. Letherbee Distillery, based in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood, was famously hit with a cease and desist in 2014 for coming out with their own version of malort, which they now call Besk. Chicago liquor lovers are passionate about malort, and other distilleries attempting to get in on the hype is inevitable.
Atkinson told the Chicago tribune that he plans to expand distribution of malort to other cities that are interested in it, such as Austin, Milwaukee and Seattle. Over time, the cult status of malort has been picked up on by people in other cities, and the demand for the beverage in cities other than Chicago has risen as a result.
While the bitter drink is amazing to some people, and disgusting to others, one thing is certain: bringing the production of the drink back to Downtown Chicago is a good thing.