Chicago Piemaker Makes A Malort Pie

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.

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