After a lengthy hiatus, The Drinkable Week has returned with a super-sized episode (well, it’s longer than 4 minutes, which is like 75 percent longer than usual). The tiki bar renaissance is one of my favorite things these days. To celebrate, I explore Polynesian-inspired potable paradises in three time zones. Special guests: Ben & Mary Kate Mack!
If you find yourself in Chicago, don’t even think about leaving without drinking some Malört, the fairly, umm, aggressive-tasting tipple based on the Scandinavian wormwood-infused spirit, bësk (Malört actually means wormwood).
Jeppson’s Malört, launched legally in the Windy City in 1934 (but sold “medicinally” during Prohibition) was, and more or less the only game in town. In the past couple of years small, local craft distilleries have released spirits they called Malört, but the Carl Jeppson Company, which owns the original, filed to trademark the name, essentially forcing the others to remove it from their labels and call it something else (usually bësk). Some have yet to comply.
It’s hard to find a bar in Chicago that doesn’t have a stash of the spirit, but some are more conducive than others to putting you in the Malört state of mind.