If you follow mixology trends, you know about Malort, the notoriously bitter spirit of Chicago. So what’s a mocktail based on Malort doing in North Carolina?
Charlotte-based restaurant Counter, which specializes in wine and nonalcoholic pairings for its tasting menus, had a spring menu theme called Street Food that paid tribute to six cities around the world. Sommelier Michael Myers researched popular beverages for each city and either made his own version or stayed as true to the classic as possible.
Street Food drink highlights included chicha morada for Lima; Champagne oolong tea (Singapore); sweet and sour plum (Chengdu); and orange anise syrup and soda (Barcelona). But Myers had no idea what drink to do for Chicago, “so I asked the only person I knew who had spent time in Chicago: Chef Sam.”
That would be Counter’s chef/owner Sam Hart, who told Myers about Malort. How did Hart describe Malort?
“He told me it tastes like regret, and you pair it with bad decisions. So that’s what I decided to make,” Myers says.
People tend to drink Malort either straight up or mixed with grapefruit juice. So Myers combined salted grapefruit juice and elderflower simple syrup, with spiced ice cubes that act as a nonalcoholic version of Malort. “That means that as the ice cubes melt, the drink will get more bitter, kind of like regret and bad decisions,” he says.
If you think your guests would like to experience the bitterness and regret that is Malort without the alcohol, here’s how to make the Chicago mocktail.
For the grapefruit: Juice 3 large grapefruits. Strain out the pulp/seeds. Mix in 2 pinches of salt.
Elderflower simple syrup: Mix ½ oz. of dried elderflower with 1 pint of water and 1 pint of sugar and bring to a boil. As water starts to boil, remove from heat, and set aside to steep for roughly 10 min.
Malort ice cubes: Add 10 pieces of star anise with equal parts clove to 1 quart of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain out pieces of anise and clove. Once the water is cool, add it to an ice cube tray and freeze.
To make the drink: Mix 2 parts grapefruit mix to 1 part elderflower simple syrup. Put 5 Malort ice cubes in a glass and pour mixture over the top.