Last week, we challenged Philly's best bartenders to come up with a tasty cocktail using Jeppson's MalÃ¶rt, a notoriously disgusting Chicago-based spirit. The first person to take us up on the challenge was Christian Gaal, the dapper Noble barkeep who Felicia D profiled back in July of '09.
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First things first: We made Gaal taste the MalÃ¶rt straight up. (His contribution to Flickr's "MalÃ¶rt face" pool
can be seen above.) "It's rather bitter," he observed. That's kind of like if you were to describe a naked cannonball into the Bering Strait as "rather frigid." Nevertheless, Christian got to work right away on two MalÃ¶rt-based concoctions. The first, dubbed the Broad Street Bully
, consisted of:
1 oz. MalÃ¶rt
1.5 oz. Jacquin's Rock & Rye
.5 oz. Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
Peychaud's Aromatic Bitters
First off, it should be noted that we brought the Rock & Rye
, a Philly-conceived concoction, to Noble's bar at Gaal's request. He figured the cheap, gross and deathly-sweet liqueur, a combo of rye, oranges and piles of rock candy (read: sugar) would perform well slicing through the near-unbearable earwaxiness of MalÃ¶rt. The bitters, plus that small amount of Laird's
(another local standby what up, Scobeyville!) calmed both extremes for a real liquor drinker's drink served chilled and neat. MalÃ¶rt characterizes itself as a "two-fisted" drinking experience, and this all-booze recipe lived up to that descriptor quite well. Was the MalÃ¶rt "flavor" still a presence? Oh hell yes on the finish, particularly. But the opening acts made this punch in the jaw a fun one to take standing.
Gaal's second attempt at MalÃ¶rtifcation, named the Pain Center
1.5 oz. MalÃ¶rt
1 oz. Cointreau
1.5 oz. Bluecoat Gin
Regan's Orange Bitters
Bit of Gruet Brut
Float of port
Served in a tall glass with a straw, this drink (another working name: the "Spazerac") resembled a felonized doo wop-era milkshake due to the egg froth that Gaal rocked out so adroitly. It did not taste like a milkshake. The floral notes of Bluecoat Gaal explained that the organic juniper berries Philadelphia Distilling
uses give the gin its rare, subtle character came through at the forefront with this drink, and the orange pith flavor of the triple sec and the Regan's in an unfolding role.
Of Gaal's two experiments, the Broad Street Bully is the one we'd certainly order again. It became clear pretty early on in the MalÃ¶rt challenge that there are two modes of operation for this project: You can either embrace the liquor's extreme unpalatability and go the weird-but-tasty route, OR you can select additions and ingredients that temper those characteristics. It's been fascinating watching what Philly's bartenders have come up with so far.
Next up in the MalÃ¶rt cocktail challenge: Colin Shearn and Al Sotack of The Franklin.