From the farms of Skåne to the neighborhoods of Chicago, Jeppson’s Malört is here to challenge your palate and start a conversation.
Jeppson’s Malört is Chicago’s local beskbrännvin — a style of bitter, wormwood-based, Swedish schnapps. First developed during medieval times for its supposed medicinal benefits, it’s traditionally associated with the farms of Skåne, in Sweden, where wormwood grows wild. In the early 1900s, it was the most ubiquitous drink in Sweden and accompanied the nearly 1 million Swedes who immigrated to the U.S. during that period. One of those immigrants was a man from Ystad, Skåne named Carl Jeppson.
During Prohibition, Mr. Jeppson was into the business of producing legal “medicinal alcohol,” and sold his brand of besk bar-to-bar. After repeal, Malört was a staple of every Swedish bar on Clark St and by that time he had sold his recipe to Bielzoff Products Co., a Chicago distillery. George Brode, Bielzoff owner, helped push Jeppson’s Malört beyond its Swedish origins by introducing it to Chicago’s Polish population, who in turn introduced it to the rest of Chicago.
Through the decades, Jeppson’s Malört has been thought of as a rite of passage and even a purported hangover cure. But we think it is more than that — Jeppson’s Malört is a drink that has helped define the Chicago bar experience. So, join us for a shot, or a cocktail! As George Brode used to say- “You may not like the first, but after the second shot, you’ll be ours forever!” Skål!
There are many who consider themselves to be the “1 in 49’s,” the “Two-fisted Drinkers” or even one of the folks “who strikes a blow for freedom every time they order a shot of Jeppson’s Malört!”* But who is a typical Malört drinker? We would like to introduce you to one of them.
Meet Tony. For Tony, Jeppson’s Malört is not just another shot from a bottle, it’s a family tradition. Growing up his father drank a shot of Malört almost every night at 4pm to help “settle his stomach.” When Tony was old enough, his father let him try it. As the years went by, Tony grew to love it so much that he and his father had his brothers try it — and his sisters — and their spouses and then their friends — and on and on. Years later, they had their grown children try it. Today Tony’s family and friends still love to drink Malört. Tony even likes to have his own “4 o’clock shot” now! “It’s tradition,” he says.
This story is not unique. We’ve found that fans of Jeppson’s Malört are truly passionate about it. If you have a Malört tradition that you would like to tell us about, drop us a line. We would love to share it! And remember, it’s 4 o‘clock somewhere!
*Actual Jeppson’s Malört slogans from over the decades.
The Jeppson's Malört crew at Paddy Long's in Chicago.
Pictured from left to right: Peter Strom, Pat Gabelick (owner), Sam Mechling and Chris Depa.