It’s not a coincidence that with Malort, as well as most bësks, the experience is similar. They’re unforgiving and intimidating at first, but, if you stick it out, you find sweetness, warmth, and complexity. So, perhaps, it’s no surprise that Malort and other bësks have found a foothold in Chicago, a place that is inhospitable most of the year and has many, many things wrong with it.
Many move after their first Chicago winter, to warmer climes on the west coast, or to bigger cities on the east. More still move before that time, unable to keep up with a city that really isn’t the easiest place to live. But those that stick around, those that put in the effort to really get a taste for the place discover true beauty, complexity, and wonder. This metaphor goes deeper, but I’m sure you get the idea.
So when Chicagoans say they hate Malort, that it’s terrible, quite possibly that it’s a sin against God, it’s a coded message. Sure, only a few of us actually like the stuff, that’s the point. Like Dante’s descent into hell, it is a trying experience, but one with a wonderful payoff at the end. In Chicago, we operate on a strict “no pain, no gain” philosophy and once you endure the trial that is Malort, you’ll really and truly be one of us. Malort is both a sin against God and it is actually kinda good. And unfortunately for Chicagoans who aren’t tough enough to enjoy the spirit, it can’t be one without the other.