Chicago Piemaker Makes a Malort Pie

Chicago’s most inexplicable local beverage is now a pie

Chicago's Hoosier Mama Pie Company made a pie out of the city's favorite astoundingly bitter cult spirit, Malort. 

Jeppson’s Malort is both a very strong liqueur and a prank Chicagoans like to play on each other, and now one Chicago piemaker has decided to make “the most Chicago pie ever” by baking the local cult spirit into a pie.

Chicago has a number of culinary quirks that are unique to that city, but none are as inexplicable to outsiders as the intense love-hate relationship Chicago has with Jeppson’s Malort. Malort is an extremely bitter wormwood-based liqueur that is so unpalatable that there is a #MalortFace hashtag dedicated to documenting the horrified grimaces of people who have just tasted it for the first time.

Malort never caught on outside Chicago, but people there love it--even if they just love it because they like seeing people’s faces when they taste it for the first time--and it seems like every bartender in the city has a bottle of it on-hand at all times.

Most people describe Malort as tasting like paint-thinner, or bile, but some detect an extremely bitter flavor of grapefruit rind, and that’s what inspired Hoosier Mama Pie Company baker Ursula Siker to put it in a pie.

According to Zagat, Siker used the Malort with a grapefruit custard to create a pie called a Chicago Sunrise, which she describes as a take on the tequila sunrise that has a bitter aftertaste and a very grapefruit-forward flavor, but without the mouth-bleeding intensity of the spirit on its own.

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“It’s good to take baby steps into Malort like this, which makes it interesting,” she said to Zagat.