Essentials: Jeppson’s Malört, Chicago, Illinois
Objectively awful or an acquired taste?
Your first-ever taste of any hard liquor probably wasn’t a purely pleasant experience. As a 10-year-old stealing a sip of whiskey, for me it was shocking, like, “Who likes this?” So when people hold up Jeppson’s Malört—a wormwood-based liqueur invented by a Chicago-based Swede in the 1920s—as objectively awful, I think it’s more for bragging rights and funny stories than actual disgust. In Chicago bars, which is where most of the world’s supply is consumed, people dare each other to drink shots, taking extra delight in watching those who’ve never before enjoy its bitter charms. Google “Malört face” and you’ll find photos of disgusted drinkers’ reactions to their first sips. For many, it’ll be their first and last, but plenty will return for its bruising charms. —Josh Modell
Josh Modell began his writing career with vicious critiques of his grade school’s cafeteria food. From 2000-2018, he worked in various editorial capacities for The A.V. Club, from copy boy to editor-in-chief to editorial director of the whole Onion Inc. empire. He is currently the executive editor of Talkhouse.
Kevin Necessary is a freelance illustrator and editorial cartoonist. He is currently the editorial cartoonist for The Cincinnati Enquirer. His cartoons are syndicated by GoComics, and his cartoons have been published in a variety of publications such as The Week and Politico. A Cincinnati native, Kevin will fight to the death defending Cincinnati chili. He lives with his wife, Julie, and three cats, Huckleberry, Grayson, and Bonnie.