As late as the early 90s, Jeppson’s Malort bottle hangers featured 11 cocktail recipes, including the Jeppson Collins, the Nordic Peril, and the Jeppsoni. Most of them, according to company owner Pat Gabelick, were “bogus.” But the Sweet Swede wasn’t: putting a sugar cube in the mouth before downing a shot—”that’s the way the Swedes drank it,” she says.

Here are the new recipes concocted by some of my favorite Chicago bartenders for our Malort challenge, along with a few extras. —Mike Sula

The Biledriver

Tim Marco, Brixie’s

Tim’s brother, Dan, the barman at Brixie’s, remembers his first taste of Malort: “There was this scumbag regular customer that I was talking to and he asked me if I wanted a shot and I said, ‘Sure what are we shooting?’

“‘It’s called Malort. You’ll like it. It’s good for your stomach. It tastes like bile.’

“I’m like, ‘Bile doesn’t sound good, but all right, I’ll try it.'”

1 oz. Jeppson’s Malort

orange juice

Slim Jim

Pour Malort over ice into a ten-ounce tumbler Top with orange juice. Garnish with half of a Slim Jim (or whole if desired).

The Bukowski

Charles Joly, The Drawing Room

The working name for this drink was the Dirty Old Man, after the column Charles Bukowski once wrote for an underground newspaper in Los Angeles. Joly says there’s no garnish because the writer would have just thrown it back at the bartender.

1 ½ oz. Jeppson’s Malort

½ Drambuie

¾ oz. orange juice

½ oz. lemon juice

¾ oz. honey syrup (equal parts water and honey, warmed and cooled)

3-5 basil leaves

Shake and strain over rocks.

The Hard Sell

Brad Bolt, Bar DeVille

The first taste of the Hard Sell is the reward for the last. “You get the grapefruit and sweetness in front of it,” say Bolt. “And you get the lingering bitter finish. You’ve got this cyclical thing going on.”

¾ oz. Jeppson’s Malort

¾ oz. Beefeater Gin

¾ oz. St-Germain elderflower liqueur

¾ oz. fresh lemon juice

grapefruit peel

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add ice, and shake hard. Strain into cocktail glass. Twist grapefruit peel over glass to extract its essential oils.


Paul McGee, The Whistler

Mexicans drink more Palomas than margaritas. This is McGee’s Malort version of the national drink of Mexico, a yet-to-be-named concoction that is also a variation of the Whistler’s own Long Faced Dove.

1 ½ oz. Herradura Silver Tequila

¾ oz. fresh orange juice

¾ oz. fresh lime juice

½ oz. Jeppson’s Malort

2 oz. ginger beer

crystallized ginger

Shake all ingredients except ginger beer and strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with crystallized ginger.

Golden Eel

Paul McGee, The Whistler

Created for Whistler regulars “Howard” and “Biff. “Now every time they come in that’s pretty much all they drink,” says McGee.

1 ½ oz. Beefeater Gin

¾ oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth

½ oz. Jeppson’s Malort

orange peel

Build in an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Stir, and garnish with orange peel.

The Ukrainian Negroni

Toby Maloney, Alchemy Consulting/The Violet Hour

Unlike Europeans, who have a large selection of challenging herbal spirits to chose from, Americans—”raised on Ho-Hos and Coca-Cola,” as Maloney puts it—haven’t learned to appreciate the bitter. Maloney’s negroni, with its fat body and round sweetness, reminded Gabelick of her favorite cocktail—the manhattan.

2 oz. Tanqueray

1 ½ oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth

¼ oz. Campari

¼ oz. Jeppson’s Malort

Orange peel sliced into a disk

Build in a mixing glass. Stir. Strain into a coupe. Flame the orange disk over the top by squeezing the essential oils out while igniting them with a lighter.

Michigan Cutter

Stephen Cole, The Violet Hour

“I really love bitter sours,” says Cole. “Especially Amaro sours, because you get this nice sweetness right at the very beginning, then you get this nice bitter characteristic that rounds it off and carries.”

1 oz. Jeppson’s Malort

1 oz. Amaro Montenegro

¾ oz. fresh lemon juice

½ oz. simple syrup

dash orange bitters

1 egg white


Combine all ingredients except 7Up in a shaker. Shake without ice to emulsify egg white. Add ice. Shake. Strain into a short nine-ounce water glass. Top with 7Up.

Three Worms

Peter Vestinos, development director for Wirtz Beverage Group

“The Malort has that framework,” says Vestinos. “And the vermouth can kind of play in there, and the other botanicals float around and help to flesh it out a little bit.”

1 ½ oz. Jeppson’s Malort

½ oz. dry vermouth

¼ oz. Kubler Absinthe

1 oz. tangerine juice

1 oz. lime juice

1 oz. simple syrup

1 egg white

tangerine peel

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake without ice to emulsify egg white. Add ice. Shake hard again. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with tangerine peel.