Food & Drink

We Made 3 Chicago Sommeliers Do a Malort Tasting

sean cooley/thrillist

Anyone familiar with polarizing local elixir Malort knows 1) it was once used to cure menstrual cramps, 2) it means “Chernobyl” in Russian, and 3) you make this face when you drink it. But is it really that bad? We brought three Chicago sommeliers into Kaiser Tiger for the most brutal tasting imaginable. 

sean cooley/thrillist

The Color

Philippe André, Grand Cru Sommelier: "If you liquefied the Wicked Witch of the West, I’m pretty sure this is what it would look like. Maybe I’m hallucinating."
Ryan Arnold, Wine Director at Lettuce Entertain You: "Either old white wine or younger, oaky wine. Probably from a warm area."
Jon McDaniel, Wine Director at Acanto: "Early ‘80s, older wine... golden butterscotch color... dark golden color usually means aging."

 It smells like you had a party the night before and someone didn’t flush the toilet

sean cooley/thrillist

The Smell

Ryan Arnold, Wine Director at Lettuce Entertain You: "Like gasoline, not super premium, more like ‘87 gas smell from a distance... need a whole new category... maybe warm pee? It smells like you had a party the night before and someone didn’t flush the toilet and it’s been sitting there for a while."
Jon McDaniel, Wine Director at Acanto: "It’s like I’m in a weird Greek discotheque and it’s the hairy guy with gold chains. That’s what it smells like."
Philippe André, Grand Cru Sommelier: "It smells like if I bit the head off a crow and smelled the inside. The crow is dead by the way... [and] ate chamomile in ’05."

sean cooley/thrillist

The Taste

Philippe André, Grand Cru Sommelier: "You could use it to start a car or a machine or embalm someone if you needed to. I once dissected an owl pellet and this is what was inside."
Jon McDaniel, Wine Director at Acanto: "It dries out the mouth completely. It’s like putting sawdust in your mouth. I feel like I’m in Somalia all of a sudden. Piney, astringent cleaning aromatics, like Pine-Sol. Is this Pine-Sol? It tastes like when your dad says, 'Get the belt.' ... This is the liquor version of puke and rally."
Ryan Arnold, Wine Director at Lettuce Entertain You: "Fresh-cut grass, savory, a bit of mint... I don't like this."

It’s the STD of liquor. It’s never going away. It’ll be with you until you do something about it. You will taste this hours later.

sean cooley/thrillist

The Finish

Jon McDaniel, Wine Director at Acanto: "It’s the STD of liquor. It’s never going away. It’ll be with you until you do something about it. You will taste this hours later."
Ryan Arnold, Wine Director at Lettuce Entertain You: "Long. It stays with you for better or worse... age is not a factor: it would taste the same no matter the age. It’s getting a little bit better now... it’s doing something weird to the sides of my tongue."
Philippe André, Grand Cru Sommelier: "It won’t fucking go away... It’s like the guy who shows up at closing time at the bar and you know he’s a talker."

sean cooley/thrillist

The Emotion

Ryan Arnold, Wine Director at Lettuce Entertain You: "It’s not a roller coaster with ups and downs, it’s straight down... It brings me to an angry, aggressive place. This is not the emotion I’d like to experience every day. I want to be listening to Slayer and Pantera in a wife beater in a really dark place, preferably with no windows."
Jon McDaniel, Wine Director at Acanto: "There’s a French word terroir, meaning it should taste like where it came from... It tastes like Chicago... It reminds me of times people came out to visit me in Chicago. It’s very love and hate."
Philippe André, Grand Cru Sommelier: "Regret, anger... aggressive, there’s some sadness in there. It reminds me of the first time my dog got ran over by a car... either that or the first time I had my bike stolen. It’s like having something very dear to you taken away and then thrown back in your face."

sean cooley/thrillist

The Pairings

Ryan Arnold, Wine Director at Lettuce Entertain You: "Food with a lot of sweetness, maybe pork belly with stewed apples. Something deep-fried, fatty, sweet. Maybe white meat, game, poultry... it’s basically vodka marinated with bitter awfulness."
Jon McDaniel, Wine Director at Acanto: "Intensely spicy Asian food, shawarma chicken, five-alarm Thai curry." (He also said you could dip an almond cookie in Malort and eat it like an Italian biscotti in wine.)
Philippe André, Grand Cru Sommelier: "You need something pretty rich, like a sausage with mustard... something fat and vibrant to help speed up the finish. It’s like a Russian bath house or Tuesday oyster special: it’s a leap of faith... I love Malort. It always reminds me of what I did to deserve this."

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