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Documentary Being Made About Chicago’s Worst Liquor, Jeppson’s Malort, Due Out This Summer

Local writer Don De Grazia poignantly explains how Malort is a metaphor for life at the Underground Wonder Bar.

Local writer Don De Grazia poignantly explains how Malort is a metaphor for life at the Underground Wonder Bar.

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By Mason Johnson

Jeppson’s Malort is a Chicago liquor known mostly for its painfully bitter, awful taste. Its taste starts off innocent enough, a little citrusy with a hint of honey, but then the wormwood punches you right in the face. Malort’s even spawned a ritual in which locals convince out-of-towners to down a shot in the hopes of seeing their “malort face” — an expression of horror and pain.

There’s good news for those who legitimately like the stuff (or lie about it) — a documentary about Jeppson’s Malort is coming out this summer.

You can see the trailer for the documentary at K-HITS Chicago.

The documentary will focus on Jeppson’s Malort’s legacy. Despite its recent popularity, Jeppson’s Malort has actually been around for decades. In the 1930s the recipe was bought from Carl Jeppson by George Brode, a Chicago lawyer who ran the company in his free time. Today it’s Brode’s one time secretary, Patricia Gabelick, that now runs Jeppson’s Malort.

The documentary is being made by Fire Engine Red Films, whose films include what seems to be an ad for a group called “Pro Gun Babes” and an ad for Seth Casteel’s book, Underwater Dogs.

The legitimacy of the video, especially so close to April Fool’s day, seemed suspect. Jeppson’s Malort responded to our skepticism through Twitter:

Read more about the documentary and watch the trailer here.